EAST LAKE, Fla. — A clear message of solidarity is now coming from neighbors in an East Lake subdivision. They say they stand by their law enforcement neighbors who are in a battle with their HOA.
"I think most people have a respect for what law-enforcement does,” said Dan Parri, a long-time friend of the family.
Holiday Isles Management, the HOA managing Cross Pointe in East Lake Woodlands sent the Clearwater police officer and her husband a letter that threatens them with violation costs if they don’t stop parking a marked police cruiser in the driveway.
The officer says her police cruiser was grandfathered in via written communication received by the former HOA president, when the HOA decided to change its rules to include "government issued" cars. The HOA says it’s not valid.
"It’s astonishing to understand that,” said Parri.
The story has now grabbed the attention of a state senator and House Representative who are both perplexed by it all.
"My gut reaction was this can’t be real. This flies in the face of common sense,” said Chris Sprowls, a House Rep. for District 65.
Chris Sprowls even posted about it to Facebook and linked our article, first posted Tuesday, saying it’s time to clarify the law. Senator Ed Hooper, in district 60, agrees.
"Having that visible deterrent in plain sight — if I were someone who was looking to do that would certainly tell me like maybe stay out of this neighborhood,” Hooper said.
He confirms he’s going to meet with the Pinellas County Sheriff, after already sitting down with the Cleawater Police Chief, before he submits legislation to the Senate to draft a bill.
"We wouldn’t want to have to do this but we will go to Tallahassee and we will make sure folks like this are protected so this doesn’t happen to another family,” said Sprowls. He plans to do the same thing in the House.
"They live by the rules and they’ve served and protected our streets, and then they have a rule change and they’re expected to change their life and that’s unacceptable."
"We have a lot of problems in this state and local area and this really should not be one of them,” said Parri, who is grateful state leaders are trying to make this right.
The HOA didn’t respond after our second request for comment.
The Clearwater Police Chief, Dan Slaughter, has come to his officers defense sending a statement late Tuesday.
"The actions of this association to changing the rules is disappointing to say the least. If you are going to change the rules on them, it seems logical to provide a grandfather clause that the association will honor. Not a grandfather clause they changed their mind on honoring.”
“The community has demanded officers be dedicated community servants and respond, day or night, to emergencies. This officer and her spouse have served her community admirably. When Irma hit our community, they put their kids on a plane to relatives because they both had to work during the storm recovery,” Chief Slaughter added.