Police Officer Handcuffs Firefighter at the Scene of an Accident Over Parking Dispute

firefighter-arrestedWhen I first read this story, I honestly believed it was satire.  Sadly, it’s not.  What happened was a California highway patrol officer detained a firefighter who was at the scene of an accident treating some of the victims involved – because he wouldn’t move his fire truck.

Can you see now why I might have thought this was satire?

Apparently both the officer and the firefighters responded to the same accident where a car had flipped over the concrete divider on a local highway.  And as customary to what I see happen often here in Texas (and I’m sure many other places as well) the firefighter parked the truck behind the ambulance to provide protection for those working at the scene of the accident.

According to the reports, at some point an officer (whose name they’re not releasing) wanted to clear a lane on the highway so he asked the firefighters (the same ones still treating victims of the accident) to move their fire truck.  The officer apparently informed the firefighters that if they refused, they would be arrested.

When firefighter Jacob Gregoire said he would first have to check with his captain, that’s apparently when the officer immediately put him in cuffs and detained him in the backseat of his squad car for around half an hour.

The officer might have had a valid reason for wanting to clear the highway, I’m not completely certain.  I just find it absolutely absurd that a firefighter who was currently at the scene of an accident helping victims, would be detained by police officers because he didn’t move his fire truck the moment they demanded it.

“To detain one of our firefighters in the middle of an incident is ridiculous,” Chula Vista Fire Chief Dave Hanneman told CBS.

Oh, but this isn’t apparently the only time this has happened.  According to this same story, in 2008 an officer was fined $18,000 after he arrested a firefighter for not moving a fire truck at the scene of an accident.

I can’t even wrap my mind around this.  At what point does it become logical to try to arrest a firefighter assisting victims at the scene of an accident for failing to move a fire truck?  Again, I’m not saying that these officers didn’t have a plausible reason to want the trucks moved, but to actually go to the lengths of arresting an on-duty firefighter is just insane.

Even if you want to ignore the basic “professional courtesy” of not arresting a fellow first responder, what else is going through your mind?  I could understand filing a report with the firefighter’s superiors over their refusal to abide by your request, but to actually arrest and detain them is an absolute joke.

I’m sorry, but I just can’t see any situation where his actions of handcuffing a firefighter who was assisting at the scene of an accident were warranted.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

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  • ForeverBuddha

    I hope the Officer will get fined big time and get suspended for his actions.

  • Mal McLean

    I understand that the police and fire department are not under the same orders exactly; however, I was under the impression they had a good working relationship with each other especially in the presence of an emergency. I sense a desk job in the records basement in the future for this officer.

  • Charlie Jimenez

    I am a retired police officer and I can’t even fathom how this would happen. We work together in NYC. We are not enemies. Sure, there are some whose egos are bigger than others, but most are colleagues and professional courtesy is alive and well between us. This cop should have left his ego home that day.

    • bluelion

      Agreed. You and I know that law enforcement and fire have to work as a team.

  • Tom Kinne

    Sounds like a Cop that has a god complex. I would hate to be pulled over by him for a minor traffic offense.

  • geminijeanna

    I want the whole story – were they shouting and arguing? What is the protocol and who is in charge at an accident? I think the two departments need to sit down – evaluate all this – learn from it and move forward. Maybe it was out of line to handcuff him and have him chill for 30 minutes or maybe it was the fastest way to diffuse the situation ? This article is only part of the story.

    • Bine646

      watch the news story on it- they were filming it live

      • geminijeanna

        I will – thanks for the information.

  • Robert P. Hawkins

    Is there a protocol for systematically testing officers for steroid abuse?

  • Kevin Daugherty

    He just wanted to throw his little weight around;hope he gets fined too.

  • katherine norton malek

    Another sad example of cops who think over much of themselves. Not sure how they act out of uniform but I’ve personally witnessed cops who act like Gestapo when in uniform. Yeah, I know they have an important job but so do a lot of other ppl who don’t need to act like an assholes. They need to offer a course in police academies on how not to develop a God complex when the uniform is put on. I think the oath they take says something like “to SERVE”?? Not dictate and/or intimidate.

  • summersetretrievers

    Idiot!

  • BigWhiteDog

    This has happened before in California as the CHP has fully legal jurisdiction over the highways/freeways and disputes arises between to open the roadway for public safety and protecting the scene. There is some question as whether the fire rig (not the first one in btw) needed to be where it was. The firefighter involved wasn’t one of those who actually had his hands on the pt so that’s being blown out of proportion. The two departments will be meeting today I believe to sortt his out. Me I’m betting it’s fault on both sides with attitudes being thrown around.

    • Brian David

      There might have been “attitudes” on both sides but it’s clear that only one side was on a power trip.

    • Why5ks

      Even if everything you say is true there should have been no arrest until the scene was cleared of all injured. The officer created an additional incident which could have jeopardized the safety of all persons on the scene. In most states no first responder can touch any victim or enter into the scene of an accident until it has been cleared by the firefighters. After clearing a scene they are required to remain until all injured are cleared and investigators arrive just to protect everyone. You start arresting them for BS like this and pretty soon you will have firefighters refusing to respond to many accident scenes.

    • Mike Williams

      The fire truck not being first on the scene is evident by the it being placed to protect the ems crew in the ambulance.

      Having worked on the highways recovering many accident vehicles. I have seen the FD deliberately block the ambulance from behind to prevent rubber necking and the inevitable impact of drivers too involved with themselves to notice the real world they are about to become part of. I have seen drivers slam into fire trucks blocking the impact of what would have been the ambulance, Usually it is the back end of the cars waiting for the okay to proceed.
      Every vehicle that I recovered was involved in an accident caused by neglect, at some point, by the driver.
      In this case, or any other, Safety for the public and crews working at the scene takes precedence over some bubba getting to starbucks before barrista bob goes on break.

      • howard duck

        The FD apparatus would have been placed to protect the scene, not just the ambulance crew. It could have been on-scene before the ambulance.

      • Mike Williams

        So true.

    • Ellen P Collingsworth

      According to the story the firefighter told the officer he needed to ask his superior. How is that an ego trip on the FF’s part? Cops rape, I mean “cavity search”, women on the side of the highway for simple speeding offenses and without changing gloves between back to front or between victims, ahem I mean “suspects”, they shoot dogs even when they showed up at the wrong house. There are a lot of really awful people carrying guns and badges and like the Catholic church, other officers seem perfectly willing to protect the lowlifes in their ranks. I have no problem believing that this officer is completely at fault and a total creep. The accident victims are lucky they didn’t have their dog in the car during the accident, this cop would have probably unloaded a few rounds into their pet too.

  • Veritas vos Liberabit

    Maybe this police officer left his house with a morning woody because his wife refused to give him some nookie. Testosterone overbuild does strange things to the male ego!

    • Ellen P Collingsworth

      R..I..G..H..T….. Find a way to blame a WOMAN for this guy being an asshole. I’ll give you a B- for effort because that sexist drivel is seriously tired and factually inaccurate. Men do not ejaculate testosterone and women bear no responsibility for handling male libido if they are not interested. Even assuming that your “lack of nookie” statement is remotely accurate as a cause for this person’s behavior, Dude could have handled business himself if it was a problem.

      • Veritas vos Liberabit

        Way to take things literally. My statement was nothing more than a sarcasm. Anyway, according to the article, this firefighter followed proper procedure. When asked to move the firetruck, his first reaction was to get clearance from his Captain. This cop overreacted prematurely(no pun intended, just in case).

      • Bine646

        you’re either not married or your husband hates his life….

      • RileyA

        You say things that rapists say, Bine. If you are married, I pity your wife, too. Your kind is the downfall of civilized society.

      • Bine646

        Which part is what rapists say? The not married part or the husband hates his life part?

      • Chomper Lomper Tawee

        That was a weird thing to say…

      • Chomper Lomper Tawee

        My God you’re so touchy.

  • bluelion

    I am a retired CHP officer. This should never have happen. The officer was a knucklehead. The first concern is to treat the injured and clear the freeway. Quite frankly I liked having those big fire trucks blocking traffic so I could do my job in a safe manner. Sound professional judgement was the term that we used during my day, (okay I been retired 15 years) which was lacking here.

    • Mr B

      I’m sure there was a lot of that Sound Professional Judgment you spoke of during your time on the Force . Growing up with a few friends fathers on the force times were much different , today seems like TV mentality going around What ever happened to (To Protect and Serve) instead we many overzealous (Shoot First ask Questions Later) Officers out there ..

      • bluelion

        Part of lack of sound judgment comes from the increased militarizing of the police together with the politicians using the police as their own security force. (look at Wisconsin and Michigan why are the police the only public employees still allowed collective bargaining) Does every department need a swat force? Does every mayor/football coach needs a protective detail? One more point, we had quite of few Vietnam era vets, me included, that didn’t see black or white, but gray, and would use time as a weapon to settle incidents down. I worked beats where my nearest backup was 20 to 40 miles away, you have to use your mind to remain safe out there. and one final point, if this officer was under my supervision he would be up for some corrective action, he can’t be fired for being stupid, but he sure can spend some time suspended without pay.

  • tarantulus

    So why is this imbecile with a badge and a gun not fined, fired, and slapped for being the world’s biggest dumbass?

  • Tim

    That’s the problem with the police now days they think they are god and do whatever they want.

  • johnbuoy

    You asked, “At what point does it become logical to try to arrest a firefighter assisting victims at the scene of an accident for failing to move a fire truck?”
    I think the answer is when the ‘police officer’ decides it’s time to drop trou and see who has the biggest. I am sick of the police state we’re evolving into. Police officers get away with anything because each and every other one will stand up for and behind the miscreant. You see stories every day where they’ve stunned, beaten and shot an unarmed person and somehow manage to convince the powers that be that it was necessary force. To paraphrase a slogan from the 60s, next time I’m in trouble, I’ll call a hippie.

  • Patricia Slaughter

    I am a retired firefighter- IN TEXAS. Our local and mutual aid command structure is set up that for the most part the incident safety officer (9 times out of 10 a FIRE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL- only outranked by a federal agency) makes the call when to release the scene to other entities. In the event of no official ISO- the highest ranking member of the FIRE DEPARTMENT TEAM ON SCENE, in this case the crew captain, makes the call as to scene safety (#1 reason all drivers/engineers have to take/study Incident Command and Safety to promote to officer). From the way this reads- the truck was positioned (as should be at any accident scene) to indirectly direct oncoming traffic away from the lanes in which the accident AND emergency personnel (including said arresting law enforcement personnel) are occupying. If this means ALL traffic is stopped to ensure this safety, then that is the PRIORITY. To me this is just another example of law officers letting their CIVIC duty go to their heads and give them some kind of supremacy power trip. Each time I see this kind of thing, I think if they were a paramedic or firefighter, they would have been suspended without pay if not separated from their duties permanently.

    • Jay Jonstone

      In defense of the cop, but only slightly. The California Highway Patrol has a different way of prioritizing accident scenes on freeways. There is enormous pressure to get ALL vehicles off the roadway and out of sight as soon as possible. The presence of an emergency vehicle, whether blocking traffic or not, poses a hazard to the public. Rear end accidents, and further mayhem, are inevitable. The CHP even goes so far as to NOT write tickets for minor offenses on the highway. Studies have shown that death & accident rates actually go DOWN with lowered enforcement. I think California is the ONLY state that puts public safety ahead of revenue generation.

      • Patricia Slaughter

        That is the purpose of all first responders, not revenue. Saving the life of a person has NOTHING to do with revenue. Proper and SAFE removal of not only the patient, but any hazardous materials generated by the accident, as well as the debris (which can further create additional traffic issues and accidents) take time. Stabilization of the patient, cribbing an unstable vehicle, effective removal of the vehicle from the patient (NOT the other way around) is essential and always best performed when the rescuers can concentrate on the dangerous tasks at hand and not have to worry about the security of the scene. HOW many times have YOU been in a shaky vehicle, holding C-spine stabilization on an injured person while your co-workers literally cut and chop and tear the vehicle away from around you? How many times have you seen an impatient (and all so self important) commuter break a safety line to veer around an accident scene to take out the officer directing traffic safely with their car, creating not one, but TWO new accidents to work with? How many times have you had to mitigate a hazardous materials scene at a wreck? This isn’t about revenue, or even tickets, this is about human life, the patient and the rescuers. THOSE TAKE PRIORITY OVER ANYTHING ELSE. To behave or speak in a manner going against that violates the humanity that SHOULD reside in each of us. If California drivers are so concerned about how it looks to have a wreck impeding their scenic drive home, maybe they should reconsider for a second- WHAT IF THEY WERE THE PERSON IN THE CAR?!?!

      • bluelion

        Adding to your comment, the California Highway Patrol gets no money from the revenue from citations issued. When talk of a new commercial vehicle inspection station is floated, cities fight for it, because commercial citations brings big bucks to the local government. And we also didn’t keep our emergency lights on at an accident scenes/enforcement stop on the freeways to cut down on looky Lou’s,

      • Jay Jonstone

        retracted

  • Terry Houston

    piss ant cop needs to go that one is making a bad name for police .

  • Dena Trupiano

    This same thing happened several years ago in Hazelwood, MO. Firetruck responded to a car accident on the highway and pulled up along side of it and blocked 1 lane, and police didn’t like that and he refused to move the firetruck. He was arrested for being safe and doing his job. There are videos of this on youtube. The firefighter I think sued the police department and won.

  • Edward Krebbs

    Of course the firefighter had to check with the captain – probably because the captain would be the logical incident commander. The fed govt has advanced a national system for handling incidents in order to make it where different departments can cooperate in case of a large incident to a disaster. The incident commander is responsible for the safety of everyone working on the scene. As stated in the article, often the big rigs are parked in back to protect those working on the scene (such as distracted drivers who could easily veer off and hit someone). AS A COP, THE COP SHOULD HAVE KNOWN that before you substantially alter the site and do something that drastically changes the safety of the scene, you are REQUIRED to have the incident commanders OK.

  • Edward Krebbs

    About the cop (and behavior like this doesn’t justify me using the word police officer): 1) Why was he apparently (and negligently) UN-trained and UN-aware of the national system designed to allow agencies to cooperate and now used from multistate disasters down to local small incidents ? 2) Wonder how often this guy fits the stereotype (and sometimes caught on tape) of the cop who parks illegally to take a break.

  • Jay Jonstone

    Did the officer clear the highway in a more expedient manner? I think not. Could the officer have moved it himself if it was so imperative that the vehicle be moved? I think so. (It’s easier than you think.) Just a power play by a childish boy, his badge and his gun.

  • JZ71

    Obviously I’m in the minority, but sometimes the FD goes too far in trying to “protect” the scene. Ideally (in their world), the highway would be totally shut down, with no traffic passing by. But I’ve seen many incidents where the actual scene is confined to the shoulder, yet the FD insists on closing not one, but two lanes. I get it, it’s hazardous out there, but, bigger picture, creating unneeded congestion just creates the stage for even more accidents! There needs to be some balance, and the dueling agendas (protecting the emergency workers versus getting and keeping traffic moving) need to be defined by both reasonable protocols (decided in advance) and common sense AND compromise (on scene).

  • Larry Gist

    Ego. Pure and simple. Police officer are RIFE with it.

  • Wicked Cricket

    Steroids. ALL POLICE depts., military, ANY job that allows loaded weapons should REQUIRE drug testing – including steroids.
    roids cook your brain

  • D. A. Isley

    Wow!!! What a real fucktard.