Comment of the Day: Ethics Hero Alan Ehrlich Responds


Ethics Hero Alan Ehrlich, the South Pasadena citizen ticketed for directing traffic at a busy intersection when the lights failed and no police responded, has provided some valuable insight and additional details in his comments to my post about his conduct and subsequent treatment, “When Ethics Hero Meets Ethics Dunce: Alan Ehrlich and the Spirit of Citizenship vs. South Pasadena Police Chief Joe Payne and Official Arrogance.” It is collected and posted below. Thanks, Alan.

“Let me clarify a few facts and save everyone some speculation. When the first officer rolled up and instructed me to the sidewalk and present ID, I did so promptly and without fuss. Cops are trained to use an authoritative tone, this officer was typical in that regard. The officer was writing the ticket immediately, while I attempted a calm, normal voice level conversation, not about the LE failure to send an officer, but that I had appeared before Council previously 2/16/11 about the EXACT SAME PROBLEM and that I believe it was a failure of City Policy to prioritize and implement an effective traffic solution to such circumstances. The ‘dangerous conditions’ were created by LE’s policy of not assigning a TCO. Letting traffic back up for a mile, on a primary route to the only Level 1 Trauma hospital in the region, which endangers residents and 1st responders alike , and diverting artery traffic onto residential streets, past 2 schools, while children K-8 are walking to school is negligent and a dereliction of duty and responsibility to the citizens that this PD is supposed to protect and serve….

“…I didn’t give the officer the satisfaction of any response. I just signed that I would appear and started a discussion with Officer #2 after Officer #1 returned to his vehicle. We had a normal tone discussion, just as any two friends might. There is no law that says I can’t disagree with how SPPD was responding to the signal failure incident, but in no way can this particular interaction be described as confrontational or hostile, just a respectful disagreement as to how the signal failure was being handled….

“…I never in my wildest dreams would have comtemplated doing something like this for publicity. Straight and simple I saw a dangerous traffic situation and the local PD missing in action. Once the back-up was cleared and the dangerous circumstances mitigated, I was intending to leave. the area. The publicity around this event was when another citizen, who was caught in the carmageddon and worked in a nearby office building, observed SPPD finally arriving, not to take over, but to issue the citation and then drive away. The story was compounded by the many foolish statements made by Chief Payne as he attempted to defend his officer’s and departments actions, or lack thereof. The reason I believe this incident has gone viral nationally is because of the arrogance of a gov’t official saying “You can’t do that, but we’re not going to do it either, it’s not our responsibility.” Rhetorically speaking, I want to know, if you won’t let me do it, and you say you won’t do it, who will? There is a void here that the law does not address. In response to both Chief Payne and Chief Watson’s comments, the action of the officer’s and SPPD may have been compliant with the letter of law,CVC, and union contract, but it failed to address the actual problem, which was traffic was not moving and was creating a hazard on surrounding residential streets, to schoolkids bound for 2 schools, and for 1st responders from neighboring cities that needed this route to get to a primary area hospital….

“…LE from other jurisdictions and traffic lawyers have looked at the ticket, the code cited, the circumstances, etc and are confident that it has a 90+% chance of being dismissed in traffic court, Not 100%, there is no guarantee, but they believe there exists enough evidence, mitigating circumstances and good samaritan case law to make it worthwhile to challenge.. Further, I’ve stated frequently and often to anyone who has asked that I do not care about the cost of the ticket if I should be at fault, only that I hope that this entire “stupid little story” shines a bright enough spotight on the City Council and city managers to come up with a comprehensive plan if/when a similar signal failure, or construction project on a main artery happens again. I refer to the lack of Traffic Control by LE, Public Works, or the contractor during the recent Fair Oaks Blvd fiasco….

“…I have not checked the dispatch recordings, but let’s see if the alleged ‘complaint’ from the motorist was about the volunteer citizen solving the traffic problem or the lack of an ‘authorized’ LE officer on site. More likely, the call to dispatch came from the city’s contract parking enforcement officer who rolled though the intersection and also made no effort to assist. Just another example of the lies, innuendo and truth stretching of those trying to cover up their actions or lack thereof.”

One thought on “Comment of the Day: Ethics Hero Alan Ehrlich Responds

  1. Mr. Ehrlich, you did the right thing. What you were put through, and what you will go through, is the outrage. Not you helping when and where you were needed.

    My husband was trapped in downtown DC when a water main broke. Traffic backed up over blocks and blocks, and he could neither get to his destination nor find a way out of the city. Cops were parked along the side of Constitution Avenue and when my husband stopped to ask how he could get out of there, they simply reneged, and said “Who knows?” When asked what their purpose was sitting on the side of the street doing NOTHING to help the situation, the response was basically, “We haven’t been told what to do yet.”

    So this is endemic. My husband was just so frustrated that he broke about a gazillion traffic laws and got himself the hell out of there. I’m glad; he’d be in your position now if he had tried anything different, that is clear.

    I have great respect for law enforcement, the military, and others charged with protecting the populace and preserving the peace. I have no respect, and no patience, with laziness, bureaucratic nonsense, and other factors that in fact pose dangers to citizens, not mitigate them.

    Kudos to you.

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