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Trenton Cop vs. Fireman – Your Tax Dollars at Work [POLL]

Flikr user Sam Howzit
Flikr user Sam Howzit

This case is so absurd, it will make your head hurt!

A colossal waste of time and money and another example of your tax dollars at work! On one side you have firefighters responding to an emergency. On the other, an aggressive case of cop giving a ticket to one of the responding firemen for “blocking the road!”

It all started on June 8th when firefighters were sent to the Broad Street Bank building.

According to this:

Firefighters had been sent to the East State Street address to investigate an alarm in the high-rise apartment complex. With engines and ladders parked on the two-lane downtown street, Battalion Chief Steve Coltre told his driver Firefighter Ken Stout to place the chief’s marked SUV across the road.

“Stout was directed to block the scene for safety,” Bayer said.

Police Officer Lawrence “Mike” Davis then came on the scene and told Coltre to move his vehicle. Coltre refused, and a “discussion” occurred, Bayer said.

“There’s a statute that says a fire chief controls a fire scene as a matter of law, and so police officers can’t issue a ticket to a fire chief at a fire scene,” the fire union’s lawyer Andrew Bayer said.

“Which is what happened here.”

“He distracted the chief from supervising the scene while his men were in the building,” Ron Ettenger, the firefighters’ union’s state delegate, said.

Stout received summonses for obstructing traffic and failure to display his driver’s license. Together the fines for the tickets are $255 if a guilty plea is made, Bayer said.

Municipal Prosecutor Robert Yostembski said he was not aware of the facts of the case, but agreed with the decision to change the venue for the trial. He had no comment on whether the case was unnecessary.

“I don’t have any feelings on that,” he said.

In court last night, Davis declined comment because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Lt. Don Fillinger would only express a desire the case is resolved soon.
“I hope this all gets rectified,” Fillinger said.

The night the tickets were issued, Davis told Fillinger he might reconsider the summonses, Fillinger said. Fire Director Qareeb Bashir and Police Director Ralph Rivera Jr. were in contact about the matter when it occurred, Bashir said at the time, but neither director has indicated what they spoke about.

Fire union officials say the union would pay any fines if Stout were to lose the case. 
“I think the bigger problem is a precedent it would set,” Ettenger said.

“It’s bad policy,” Bayer said.

Ya think??

Here’s the rub:

The fact that the tickets are going to trial should be enough to enrage anyone. Silliness at its finest.

Then we throw in for good measure the fact that the police officer will be paid for his time if not on duty while appearing in court and that both firefighters who’ve had to go to court will be paid overtime…according to their union president!

The report then goes on to say:

The city taxpayers already footed the bill for a contracted municipal prosecutor last night, and will likely pay for the judge brought in from another jurisdiction when the trial occurs.

An assistant prosecutor will be sent from the county to argue the police department’s case.

All over tickets that should never have been issued in the first place.

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