Spicy food ain't the only hot thing at Taco Cabana parking lot

Dallas deputy sheriffs claim weapons stored in personal vehicles to keep free parking spaces while working off-duty gig at bar across street

Everyone knows that finding a parking spot on Lower Greenville is tough any weekend. But what if you are a Dallas County Deputy Sheriff working off-duty at a bar and want a free parking space at the restaurant across the street?

That's easy: You tell the restaurant manager your truck can't be towed from their parking lot because you have weapons stored in your vehicle. Then you walk across the street and work your off-duty $35-an-hour gig guarding a bar full of gangbangers.

BD and others in the neighborhood had noticed these off-duty officers were parking at Taco Cabana, then walking across the street to their off-duty gig at Eight Lounge. The towing service does not mind an on-duty officer parking his on-duty squad car on Taco Cabana's lot, but off-duty and working for a bar - that's not very kosher.

A few calls to the towing folks and others made sure these guys and Eight Lounge's owners got a message this week - Don't park at Taco Cabana anymore.

BD was at Taco Cabana on Saturday evening when an off-duty officer parked his large truck on the backside of the property. The spotter told him he could not park there anymore. He told her - I have weapons in that truck and I need to see it from across the street.

The officer went inside, told the manager his story, and poof, a magic wand was waved and parking was granted.

BD made a few more phone calls, finally reaching out to a high-level Taco Cabana executive, who was not very happy to hear about the parking issues or the weapons. He called the store manager and told him to get the vehicles off the parking lot pronto.

After that, it became a game of cat-and-mouse. First, one officer would park his truck across the street on La Vista (under a STOP sign) while the other officer cruised around in his truck.

They waited to see when the spotter was distracted, then the second officer moved his truck back to Taco Cabana - sitting in it while parked at the Greenville Avenue exit watching the club; the first officer continued drove around the block behind Cityville.

(See video of officers trying to figure out where to park - with apologies for poor sound/lighting quality)

The spotter immediately told the second officer to leave the parking lot immediately, and he complied.

Seconds later, the first officer re-entered the Taco Cabana lot from Alta, sees his partner exiting on Greenville Avenue and just as quickly leaves the parking lot right behind him.

BD contacted the Dallas Sheriff's Department dispatch center and asked about officers carrying weapons while working off-duty. The dispatcher said - no surprise - all officers carry handguns all the time (on or off duty), but was a little taken aback to hear they claimed to have other weapons in their personal vehicles while working off-duty jobs (there is no policy prohibiting deputies working at bars, while DPD has very detailed restrictions on the same work).

One on-duty DPD officer told BD he would never leave a weapon in his personal vehicle, no matter how secure a gun-safe it had. There are officers on call 24/7, such as SWAT teams and command level staff (deputy chiefs, division chiefs, etc), who do take their weapons home with them, but they are allowed to keep their squad cars 24/7, which are a little more secure (we hope) than the average civilian vehicle.

He said there were many instances of DPD officers whose uniforms, badge and gun have been stolen out of personal vehicles in the recent past, and noted this is not something you want to be telling your supervisor.

BD can only hope these deputies grow a few brain cells: Leave the extra weapons at home, or - as BD believes - stop lying just to get a free parking space.

Surely you can afford to pay a valet driver $20 to park your truck and maybe get your guns cleaned too?

By Avi S. Adelman under Public safety , Lower Greenville