Officially, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office rejects the notion that their deputy crossed the line when he issued a parking ticket to a vendor’s vehicle on Green Stone Court in Stoneybrook on December 16, 2019.
“Deputies engaged in detail work are expected to take into consideration the priorities established by the contracting entity; however, the deputy remains free to exercise his or her discretion when performing law enforcement functions,” Chief John Holloway wrote in an email to the Gateway Sun.
“While I understand that in your opinion Deputy Strobel acted inappropriately, hopefully, we can disagree, agreeably,” Holloway also wrote.
Holloway is referring to Strobel’s authority to write tickets in general. He’s not saying that as it relates to the jurisdiction issue, which the LCSO leadership clearly believed was in order on December 16.
Behind the scenes, however, law enforcement officers from multiple agencies have told the Sun that the Stoneybrook situation has been discussed in their ranks and that the officers knew they did not have the jurisdiction to write parking tickets. In fact HOA board members would demand the officers write parking tickets regardless of our coverage, and blasted the deputies when they refused.
Eventually the HOA board found an officer willing to do it who happened to be a Stoneybrook resident.
One that owed their board a huge favor.
In 2017, the Sun was made aware of a police officer who had a side business which involved a commercial vehicle. And that vehicle was being permitted to stay in Stoneybrook in violation of the community’s own rules. Frustrated residents wondered how it was fair this person could break the rules simply because he was a police officer.
But the Sun learned it wasn’t because of his job. It was because he was friends with a board member.
At first it was simply a wink-nod type of arrangement. But then it became formal, as minutes from the July 2017 HOA meeting show it was debated whether to allow this special treatment “to continue”, and ultimately some sort of compromise was reached where it was allowed to only continue for an additional 60 days.
There were indeed special circumstances involved in the board’s decision as the minutes note, and we didn’t write about any of this back in 2017 for that reason. But as this officer made the decision to play the hero to the board and injected himself into this highly contentious issue, it now has new relevance.
We bring this up and are displaying the relevant section of the meeting minutes lest we be further branded as “fake news”. And because multiple individuals who are running in the HOA board election this spring voted in favor of this special exemption back in 2017.
We’re not going to name them so we’re not accused of meddling in the election. But we urge Stoneybrook residents who are concerned to find out on their own and ask themselves if they’d be granted such consideration if it were them.