STOW, Ohio (WJW) – Stow Police Officer Timothy Reiheld became an officer nearly 35 years ago to help people, and protecting the most vulnerable became his passion.

“I just literally tripped across it one day, started noticing people parking in handicapped spots that obviously weren’t allowed to do that,” said Officer Reiheld.

Over the years, he issued many tickets for different violations, but he got particularly good at spotting people illegally parking in handicapped spots and wrote more than 700 citations.

Sometimes those parking illegally had records, suspended driver’s licenses or even warrants for their arrest. 

“I was surprised, actually,” said Reiheld. “Sometimes I didn’t know if I had a violator. I’d have to wait for the person to come out and take it from there.”

Many violators would get angry and give excuses. He said one man claimed he was driving his wife’s car and that it was her permit, but she was at home.

“I said, ‘I’m sorry, sir, but she’s deceased,’ and he said, ‘yeah, well, her ashes are in an urn at home.”’

The ticket was usually around $250, but the impact was priceless.

Officer Reiheld said he never let the illegal drivers’ responses bother him because he was inspired by those who actually needed the parking spots.

“They would thank me for doing it,” he said. “I can’t think of a better group of people other than children to protect and police to give our attention to.”

On Thursday, a grateful city wanted to thank him for his service as Officer Reiheld officially retires.

During the city council meeting, he was presented with resolutions and honors from State Senator Kristina Roegner, Congressman David Joyces office and Stow City Council.

Councilman Man Riehl said, “He deserves it; he’s been a recognized face and role model to other officers.”

Everyone said they will miss him and wished him well.

Officer Reiheld said he never imagined he’d receive such attention. His only goal was to serve the city and help people, and although he’s retired, he said he’ll still be watching those parking spots and reporting any violators to police.

“I can’t help but look,” said Reiheld with a smile.