Firefighter detained by CHP officer during southern California traffic crash

This incident genuinely puzzles me.  Here’s what happened, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune:

“A California Highway Patrol officer handcuffed and detained a Chula Vista firefighter for refusing to move his engine out of traffic at a crash scene Tuesday night, prompting a nationwide storm of online commentaries on Wednesday.

The firefighter had parked the engine behind an ambulance in the fast lane of Interstate 805 near East Naples Drive, where a sedan had flipped over a concrete guard rail and two people were reported injured.

Chula Vista Fire Chief Dave Hanneman said fire crews are trained to position their rigs to block oncoming traffic.”

From what has been publicized so far, it seems unlikely that the CHP officer had a legitimate reason for the detention of firefighter Jacob Gregoire.  If fire department personnel can articulate a prudent rationale for blocking traffic at the scene of a traffic crash, I think it is probably wise for law enforcement to allow the fire department to act accordingly.  It is unclear, to me, where the CHP officer expected the engine to be parked, if not behind the ambulance that was also on scene.

Clearly, incidents like this are not in the best interests of either department or the general public.  It is my hope that officials from both departments do use this incident as an opportunity to discuss best practices for responding to such incidents and to train together.  However, I’m also hopeful that the CHP will publicly discuss the officer’s justification for detaining Gregoire.

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