Details are still emerging on an arrest that took place Tuesday night involving an officer of the California Highway Patrol and a Chula Vista firefighter. There was an alleged dispute over the location of a parked firetruck. A meeting is supposed to take place today between fire and police officials to determine what happened.
The unnamed firefighter was allegedly asked to move the firetruck which was presumably blocking traffic. Preliminary reports are that he did not refuse but responded by saying that he had to follow the chain of command and could not make that decision. The officer apparently told him that he would move the truck immediately or be arrested. When the firefighter refused he was cuffed and detained for about 30 minutes.
CBS 8 was at the scene of the crash and caught part of the incident on camera:
A California Highway Patrol officer handcuffed and detained a firefighter in a disagreement over a fire engine being in a freeway traffic lane after an accident Tuesday night.
Top officers from the Chula Vista and San Diego fire departments are meeting with a counterpart from the CHP today to determine just what led the officer to take such an unusual step.
“We’ll try to come to an understanding of what happened,” Chula Vista fire Chief Dave Henneman said.
The fire crews were helping victims from a crash on southbound I-805 between Telegraph Canyon Road and East Naples Drive, officials said. A sedan overturned about 9:20 p.m. and a second vehicle was reported down an embankment.
Henneman said the firefighters positioned a fire engine behind the ambulance to protect the people as they were being loaded inside.
“Our firefighters are trained to use the engine to protect the scene,” Henneman said. He also said, “Our No. 1 priority is the safety of our firefighters and patients.”
When the CHP officer told the firefighter to move the engine, the firefighter said he would have to check with his captain, Henneman said.
“We work on a chain of command,” the chief said. “The officer said, ‘No, you need to move now or you’ll be arrested.’ ”
Thus far the Highway Patrol has not commented on the situation.
CHP Officer Jake Sanchez, a spokesman for the agency, said he was still gathering information about the incident and had no comment. He said he believed acting Cmdr. Karyn Mentink would be attending the meeting.
“Right now, everything is under review,” Sanchez said.
The meeting was set to take place this morning but, as of the time of this publication, no further details have surfaced.
Update from CBS 8:
Representatives from the CHP and Chula Vista Fire Department met Wednesday to discuss the details of this incident. Wednesday afternoon, the the two agencies released the following joint statement:
“Last night there was an unfortunate incident at the scene of a traffic collision on I-805, where both our agencies had responded. Both the CHP and the Chula Vista Fire Department share a common goal of protecting the public and providing the highest level of safety to responding emergency personnel, involved parties and other drivers at collision scenes.
Both of our agencies have the utmost respect for each other and our respective missions. This was an isolated incident and not representative of the manner in which our agencies normally work together toward our common goal.
This morning representatives from both agencies met to discuss the incident to improve communication and ensure the highest level of service is provided to the public. This incident will be a topic of future joint training sessions, in an ongoing effort to work more efficiently together.”