Police Fire Wars in Wisconsin

A volunteer firefighter from Wisconsin who was pulled over and arrested last June while responding to an alarm with lights and siren, has filed a $50,000 excessive force claim against the police department.

Firefighter Dan Dean, 37, a member of Brooklyn Fire & EMS, was responding to an alarm in his personal vehicle on June 4, 2012. Village of Oregon police officer Ted Gilbertson, who was on the lookout for a motorist impersonating a police officer, observed Dean and gave chase. Both Dean and Gilbertson were using lights and sirens.

When Dean arrived at the fire station parking lot, Officer Gilbertson approached Dean treating the situation as a high-risk traffic stop barking orders “Get back in the car” and “Get your hands out the door, right now, both of them” while pointing his weapon at Dean. Dean tried to explain he was a Brooklyn firefighter. The incident was captured on dashboard camera of Officer Gilbertson’s cruiser.

Following the chase Dean was cited for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, a charge that Dean is contesting. The police department’s internal investigation of the incident found no evidence of wrongdoing by Officer Gilbertson.  

Dean’s complaint alleges that he mistook the siren and lights behind him for another emergency responder responding to the same fire call. He claims that on reaching the fire station Officer Gilbertson should have noticed that the fire station’s bay door was open, that other firefighters were arriving, and realized he was responding to an emergency call.

The village has 120 days to respond to the complaint before Dean can file a lawsuit. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, Dean says that the $50,000 is being asked in order to get the police department to take the situation more seriously. He said he would forego any damages if the police department simply apologized and agreed to provide additional training to its officers.

Now for my commentary:

As for the charges against Firefighter Dean, how can someone who is lawfully responding to an emergency with lights and siren be cited for failure to yield to another emergency vehicle. The charge is absurd and IMHO shows bad faith on the part of the arresting officer. The fact that the charge has not been dropped speaks even further of bad faith on the part of the police department’s leadership.

What would have happened if Officer Gilbertson had tried to pull over an undercover police vehicle that was lawfully responding to an emergency? Would the vehicle have stopped immediately? Would he have cited the driver if the driver continued on to the emergency under the reasonable assumption that Officer Gilbertson was responding to the same emergency? What if it had been one of his own supervisors? It is absurd to think Officer Gilbertson would have issued such a citation, so why is he allowed to do it here?

Rather than address these issues, the Oregon Police Department has chosen to focus on questions like was Dean driving too fast and should he have been responding lights and siren for an “odor of smoke” call that turned out to be a small fire in a refrigerator.

At the end of the day in cases like this, I cannot help but wonder why the arresting officer is not cited for interfering with a firefighter in the performance of his duties. These kinds of citations are absolutely necessary if we are to end the Police Fire War.

Incidentally, Wisconsin Statutes Ch. 941.12 (1) makes interfering with “the lawful efforts of fire fighters to extinguish a fire” a Class 1 felony. One would think arresting a firefighter responding to an alarm at gun point constitutes interference.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
  • Andrew

    Statter has at least a large portion of the cop’s dash-cam video posted. A few comments after watching the video: (1) the cop was already searching for a person alleged to be impersonating a police officer, (2) the firefighter/EMT was driving a black Challenger with a push bar (not typical FD issue); the firefighter/EMT was running red lights and siren, and it appears (from reflections) the police car was running blue lights, so confusion should be lessened as to who’s who; (3) it appeared the FF/EMT may not have stopped at several stop signs, which could negate operating with “due regard” for safety; (4) the FF/EMT did not stop, as he should have — emergency call or not — when he observed a police car behind him; (5) the FF/EMT seemed to be driving fast, but I don’t know what leeway state law gived volunteer FFs out there (here in Maine, we are not authorized to exceed speed limits for any reason); (6) the officer had reason for fear for his safety, in light of the pursuit and the impersonation call; (7)the officer, once he realized the situation, holstered his weapon and politely and professionally explained to the FF/EMT what was happening, including the search for the impersonator.

    I think, if one views the video, as posted on Statter, one could reasonably determine that the police officer acted appropriately, under the circumstances, including ratcheting down his reaction when he saw what the facts were. I also think the FF/EMT was arguably wrong in his speed and driving choices (but I would submit that is something for a jury to decide).

    • Thanks Andrew

      My understanding was that the officer was trying to stop the FF due to the mistaken belief he was impersonating a police officer, not because the FF was driving recklessly, running stop signs, speeding, etc. The FF was not cited for those infractions which suggests he was within his rights during his response.

      I am not aware of any law anywhere that requires an authorized emergency vehicle to yield the right of way to another emergency vehicle (red light or blue lights). Perhaps your own FD policy requires you to yield and that is probably a good policy but it is not the law.

      Most police departments have a high speed pursuit police that requires officers to consider the risk to the public by continuing a pursuit and the need to apprehend this driver now – hopefully this department had such a policy and it was being followed but I tend to think it was not as the officer allegedly pursued the FF at speeds in excess of 100 mph (Note: the FF was not traveling at such speeds but rather the officer was trying to catch up to him).

      At the end of the day – if the FF has to face some legal sanctions for speeding and running stops signs – so be it. But the police officer should face the music as well.

      • Andrew

        The news article to which Statter links says “The department’s internal investigation cleared officer Gilbertson of any wrongdoing and accused Dean of recklessly responding to a non-emergency.

        Dean was cited for failing to yield to an emergency vehicle. He is contesting the ticket.” Reckless driving and failure to yield certainly seem warranted from looking at the video.

        Additionally, the article states the original call was dispatched as an “odor investigation,” an “alpha-level” call. The article says “According to Dane County policy, Alpha-level calls are non-emergencies and should be answered with “no lights, no siren (and) normal driving conditions[.]”

        I’m not sure what the officer should “face the music” for. Certainly, if he violated a pursuit policy or something similar, yes, he should be held responsible. But on the basis of what is shown in Statter’s video, and what is in the State Journal article, it appears to me that the cop acted reasonably, especially since he immediately holstered his weapon upon verifying Dean’s bona fides.

        Of course, this is why we have juries… to sort out the conflicting stories and determine the correct legal response (which isn’t always “right” and usually isn’t “just”).

        • Andrew

          I am not familiar with Alpha level calls in Wisconsin but I assume that it is an internal fire department related policy matter (its not in the state emergency vehicle laws), and it certainly is not a concern of the police department (well, after the fact it became a concern but it has nothing to do with why the vehicle was pulled over). In fact the officer did not even know there was a fire call – he was chasing the FF because he thought he was impersonating a police officer, not because he was running lights and siren to an Alpha call.

          The issue (in my mind) is: Why does one person with an authorized emergency vehicle believe he has more authority than another person in an authorized emergency vehicle? The law does not say that police officers have a higher level classification of emergency vehicle than does a firefighter. An authorized emergency vehicle does not have to yield to another authorized emergency vehicle. Do you pull over when you are responding in a fire truck and a police car approaches from behind? Maybe you do but we don’t, nor do our police officers expect us to.

          As for “I’m not sure what the officer should “face the music” for” – I am not sure if you did not read/understand my original post – but Wisconsin state law makes it a felony for ANYONE to interfere with a firefighter in the performance of his duties. I think arresting a firefighter responding to a fire (even one that turns out to be a refrigerator fire) qualifies. The officer was acting in good faith – fine – tell it to the judge, maybe it will be a mitigating factor.

          As for why a police internal investigation would find no fault with what an officer did, but blame the person who filed a complaint against the officer for what happened… the first internal review of the Rodney King incident blamed Rodney King for his injuries. In some departments their internal investigations have only gotten marginally better since. Maybe they got it right – who knows – but I seriously doubt they ever considered/evaluated whether their officer violated state law by interfering with a firefighter.

          Take a look at some of the other stories on here under Police Fire Wars. Cops want everyone else to follow they law…

          • Andrew

            The reason I mention the “alpha-level” call is that it implies that Dean was knowingly operating in violation of county policy, which in turn, would cast doubt on the veracity of the rest of his complaint.

            Additionally, if the officer were aware of the fire call (and I saw no indication either way), seeing someone driving lights and siren with a minor investigation call and a prior impersonation complaint, could lead the officer to reasonably conclude he had the impersonator in sight.

            I’m far from being a knee-jerk defender of today’s cops. I spent 14 years in the job, and what I see now is nauseating: troopers choking out medics, kicking handcuffed women, driving like lunatics simply because “we can.” In fact, these days, I tend to view complaints against cops as true until proven otherwise, just as I tend to view accused cops as guilty until proven innocent.

            But, in this case, based on the video and the article, it seems the cop is less at fault than the FF/EMT. Or, under my (limited) understanding of civil law, the preponderance of the evidence (at least the available evidence, the video and the State Journal article) appears to favor the cop in this case.

            Also, it would be instructive to understand Wisconsin’s definition of an “authorized emergency vehicle” From looking at the Wisconsin state website, it appears one authorized emergency vehicle is “Privately owned motor vehicles being used by […] by members of a volunteer fire department while en route to a fire or on an emergency call pursuant to orders of their chief or other commanding officer.” (sec 340.01(3)(d), source: http://docs.legis.wi.gov/statutes/statutes/340), so the point you raise in the second paragraph is correct. BUT, if Dean were knowingly violating county response policy, would that negate his standing, in that he was acting under color of the law, but actually in violation of department policies or guidelines?

            Here in Maine, however, volunteer FF vehicles are not considered “authorized emergency vehicles” and hence, DO have to yield to police vehicles, even when responding to a fire (MRSA 29A, 2054 1 B, source: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/29-A/title29-Asec2054.html)

            Oh, and one other thing I noticed: from the time the cop got to Dean’s car to the time he holstered his weapon was about seven seconds (5:37 to 5:44, in the video on Statter’s site), which seems hardly enough to qualify as excessive force.

            I think that way too many cops these days are completely out of control,and are trigger-happy (or Taser-happy) whackjobs who shouldn’t be within a mile of a badge… but I think THIS cop did things right.

          • Andrew

            A couple of other points I missed in your reply.

            In the first paragraph, you state the officer believed he was chasing an impersonator (which is reasonable). A person impersonating a police officer, by definition, is not and cannot be operating an emergency vehicle legally.

            In your second graph, you ask why one person in an emergency vehicle should be required to yield to another. Again, if he thought he was chasing an impersonator, the perpetrator wouldn’t be an authorized emergency vehicle, it would be a vehicle impersonating an AEV. On the other hand, if he was trying to force an AEV to yield, then logically, he could not believe he was following an impersonator, could he?

            It seems like you’re pleading both sides of the case: the guy’s an impersonator, BUT he’s driving an AEV?

          • Andrew

            All good points. I did make an assumption that a firefighter responding with lights and siren is an authorized emergency vehicle in Wisconsin and I do not have time to research it – but if a POV is treated differently than an authorized emergency vehicle as you suggest is the case in Maine then there are indeed different classes of emergency vehicles. Not all states do it that way but perhaps you are correct in Wisconsin.

            I suppose it comes down to this: should police officers become the ultimate authorities as to when firefighters can or should use their emergency lights and respond to alarms Code 3?

            The officer in this case made an understandable mistake in thinking the FF was impersonating a police officer. But instead of acknowledging the mistake he cited the FF for doing what was (according to his fire chief in same articles you referenced) legal.

            I don’t think its right. You do and that’s cool. Its what makes the world go round.

            I believe the police officer can and should be cited for interfering with a firefighter. I think if more police officers were cited when they pull this kind of crap, there would be less of it.

            Way too many police officers veiw firefighters as “them” in the world of us versus them (them being those who have to obey the law and us being the good guys). Again – to fully understand the history behind this statement take a look at some of the other stories listed on here under police-fire wars.

            A police officer would not cite a brother police officer in the same circumstance. That firefighter was there trying to do the right thing – help people in an emergency – just like a police officer. He was cited because the officer viewed him as one of “them”… the great mass of people who have to obey the law. The law is the law. I get that.

            So the officer who expects “them” to follow the law because the law is the law – should also be subject to the law. He interfered with a firefighter in the performance of his duties and should be held accountable… just as he expects the firefighter to follow the law and pull over when he wants them to.

  • Dave

    I wonder if the “alleged” impersonator was ever seen again. Wonder if there was even a impersonator at all.

  • Nick

    This is absurd. The police officer acted in good faith in attempting to make a traffic stop on a vehicle believed to be impersonating a police officer. They both have valid arguments as to why they continued in their actions; Dan Dean believing they are both responding to the same call and the police officer believing he is attempting to stop a suspicious vehicle that is refusing to stop.

    The lawsuit claims excessive force on the police officer. Now let me start off by saying, I don’t pretend to know a fire fighters responsibilities and duties or how to do their job, so I won’t comment on such. Vice versa. As a police officer I understand the risks of our job and the training we receive to reduce these risks. In my department, a police officer does not need any reason to pull his pistol out. That decision is made by each individual police officer based on his perception of each individual incident that is occurring. This is pretty much standard for all police agencies, and according to the Oregon Police Department’s internal investigation, he was justified as well. The fact that he received license plate data that it was an EMT plate is irrelevant. Who knows if the EMT was murdered and a violent criminal was driving this vehicle. We don’t know, and the police officer didn’t know until the driver was positively identified, at which point he holstered his weapon. There are an infinite number of possibilities that can happen at any situation, which is why a police officer may take his pistol out based on the circumstances and his personal perception of the situation. Otherwise, I’m quite certain there would be more dead cops.

    The police officer acted professionally and used appropriate force, which in my opinion, there was no force used at all. The law suit is absurd and it is apparent Dan Dean is looking for free money. Maybe his feelings were hurt. That’s too bad.

    “Incidentally, Wisconsin Statutes Ch. 941.12 (1) makes interfering with “the lawful efforts of fire fighters to extinguish a fire” a Class 1 felony. One would think arresting a firefighter responding to an alarm at gun point constitutes interference.” THIS is a ridiculous comment and you should be ashamed. Maybe he was issued citations because he wasn’t making “lawful efforts” as a firefighter as he was breaking his own department’s policies, which were issued after the incident was investigated.

    • Nick

      Are you really suggesting that a police officer is justified in issuing a traffic citation to a firefighter because the firefighter violated his department’s internal policy?

      Nick – answer me honestly – if you were that officer and you stopped that vehicle under the exact same circumstances and it turned out to be an under cover state police officer pursuing a suspect, would you have issued him a citation? Let’s talk about absurd and who should be ashamed.

      An emergency vehicle is an emergency vehicle – and some cops look at fire department emergency vehicles differently than they look police emergency vehicles. The law is the same. If you would not issue a citation to the under cover state police officer for failure to yield then how can you justify the citation here?

      And would you seriously examine the state police high speed pursuit policy as relevant to whether or not to cite the officer???

      Tell you what – let’s avoid the insults and stick to the issues.

      • Nick


        The issuing of the citations is peas compared to the $50,000 lawsuit filed against the police officer. My argument was focused on the excessive force usded by the police officer claimed by Dan Dean.

        As far as the citation goes, the comparison you make is apples to oranges. There would not be a pursuit with the unmarked police vehicle because both police officers would have radio contact with each other to identify themselves with out ever making a traffic stop. Fire fighters do not use radios, and if they have radios, they do not communicate direct to police officers. The undercover officer would have the responsibility to communicate to other officers the situation as we are trained in identifying ourselves in undercover situations to prevent mishaps. There would be no logical explanation as to why a police officer would be issued a traffic citation when he is trying to stop another vehicle.

        If the undercover officer acted recklessly or went against general orders of his department during his pursuit, he should be disciplined by the department.

        Fire vehicles in emergency operation are to get from point A to point B. Police vehicles in emergency operation are to get from point A to point B as well. ALSO, they have another purpose in emergency operation, to effect a traffic stop. A fire vehicle can not effect a traffic stop or they would be liable to lawsuit. Cars need to yield to fire vehicle’s but they should not be stopped and held. This is the difference.

        I believe the fire department holds the responsibility to discipline Dan Dean for his emergency operation of his vehicle as it did break his department’s policies. I believe the fire department should be working with the police department in their investigation, and if a citation is warranted through their joint investigation, one can be issued. Again, this was not my argument, rather a rebuttal to an obscene comment.

        • Nick

          Good points – and fair points. I agree the suit for excessive force is on thin legal ground – unless there is something that did not appear on the video. But so is the failure to yield charge. That charge should be dismissed.

          FYI – my family includes 3 generations of police officers (and 4 generations of firefighters) – so the Police-Fire Wars rages hot and heavy!!!!

          We can analyze why we have this problem of two public minded people trying to do the right thing in a given situation and one ends up arresting the other – on many levels: the individual psychology, the group dynamics, the legal, the moral and ethical, etc.

          At the heart of the problem is that many police officers view each other as “us”, and everyone else as “them” – them being those who have to obey the law and obey their commands. In this dicotomy, firefighters are part of “them”.

          Viewing firefighters as “them” leads police officers to rationalize things like arresting incident commanders at traffic accidents because the officer does not like the way the IC is handling the incident, the way the apparatus is parked, or some similar non-sense – something the police officer would never consider doing if the IC was a fellow police officer, or particularly if it were a ranking member of his own police department.

          Why not? Why wouldn’t a patrolman arrest a police sergeant who refuses the patrolman’s order to move his vehicle? And yet have no hesitation at all to arrest a firefighter for failing to move his fire truck when the patrolman orders it? Because there would be consequences. Because the sergeant is there lawfully doing his job and because arresting the sergeant could constitute interfering with a police officer besides violating a number of internal rules and regulations. It would be a mess… and it is not how we handle those kinds of disputes.

          Now, there are some who will look at the Village of Oregon case and fall back upon “the law”. The law is the law and we have to follow the law. All other issues aside – if the firefighter fails to stop for a police officer then he should be cited. Period. Because the law is the law… and no one (NO ONE) is above the law.

          Well, I can argue on that level too. If we want to apply the strict “the law is the law” argument, then the officer interfered with a firefighter in the performance of his duties and should be cited – because the law is the law and no one is above the law.

          As a matter of fact that approach offers us a solution to the Police Fire Wars problem. A patrolman would not arrest his sergeant at an incident scene for failing to follow his “commands” – and IMHO he should not arrest a firefighter for doing the same thing either. The firefighter is there trying to do his job. If the officer does arrest the firefighter he should be charged with interfering with a firefighter. (Google: Lake County sheriff charged for arresting Leadville fire captain).

          And following the same logic stopping a firefighter responding to an alarm (big fire, small fire or false alarm) at gun point raises essentially the same issue.

          Personally, I think the charges and the lawsuit should be dropped and both folks should be dealt with through their department’s internal procedures, not the court system.

  • john murphy

    This is a goofy issue. The cop is hauling ass at over 100 MPH to find this volunteer firefighter responding to the fire station. Agree that taking all “cop like” precautions in approaching the car was the right thing to do, but it becomes obvious the cops and firefighters in this county need to get to know one another. The cop on the other hand needs to take it easy on this poor volunteer firefighter and the fire department needs to ID the volunteer vehicles with some sort of ID if they are able to use lights and sirens.

  • Dylan

    Waaaaaaay back to the second post, if the FF was running RED light and siren, either he is a really poor law enforcement fake or… A FIREFIGHTER! I can see this from both sides but following a car running red lights and siren to a firestation of which had a bay door open and multiple firefighters responding… Would lead even my 5 year old cousin to believe this person is a firefighter! Say oops and go back to patrol! Or, hold all every firefighter at gun point for the same reason. Far too often dispatch is wrong, if a review says it was “excessive” response for smell of smoke, then hell, might as well not send the fire truck either right? If they call the FD, they need the FD!

  • Jason Glover

    If you do not yield to my patrol car after miles of lights and sirens behind you, when you finally do, you will be treated the exact way. Bravo to the officer, which in my opinion, showed great restraint during the chase. He could not read the plate until the stop and he did not treat this fire fighter improperly. He simply told him to get back in his car… done to control the suspect and maintian tactical advantage, and approached the car properly with the force equal to the possible force the suspect had demonstrated over the miles of the chase. Bottom line is if the voluntary fire fighter broke his own rules, he was wrong period. He caused the situation, not the officer. If this volunteer, when running “code” to a non-code situation, was acting outside the “Color Red” (Color Blue for police). He should be held liable for each and every infraction witnessed on the video. Most of you seem like cop haters. I don’t really care why. Most times it’s because you could do it better. You also make your comments when you have never come close to being in the same situation. How brave you must feel to think you should just wander up to a car. You couldn’t be a cop because you have no clue what it is about. Always looking for fault instead of respecting the fact that most cops are good. I just hope you never need one. Hopefully this guy will not consider himself above the law in the future. There was no impeding a fire fighter… He had no idea it was a fire fighter. There have got to be better cases for you to pick apart. Face it, sometimes officers actually do the right thing….

    • Hey Jason

      Thank you for the thoughts. So you think we have “attitude”? Interesting.

      Well as far as being a cop hater, I have an uncle, brother and son involved in law enforcement – and even my Dad at various points was a police officer (in fact he still is.. that is a long story) – so while I tease them – I certainly don’t hate them.

      My problem is with cops who cannot seem to find a balance – who view the world as “us” versus “them” and view firefighters – who are just trying to do their jobs and help people – as part of “them”… you know, the scum bags who have to follow the law. That mindset allows a police officer to believe his emergency vehicle is somehow entitled to special privileges that other emergency vehicles are not entitled to.

      I have no idea whether the firefighter in this case was following his own FD’s policies or not. That is irrelevant. The officer who pulled him over did not recognize him as a firefighter, let alone realize he was a firefighter who was violating his FD’s policies. Do we really want police officers to be responsible for interpreting and enforcing internal fire department policies? By the way, do police officers in your department issue citations to each other when they are responding to emergencies if they observe a traffic violation committed by another officer?

      What I do know is that firefighter was headed to try to help someone – and the police officer believed he was doing the right thing in trying to pull him over. If the police officer pulled over an unmarked police car under the identical circumstances it is beyond my comprehension to believe a citation would have been issued… even if the under cover officer was violating his PD’s internal policies.

      But the law is the law… so the officer cited the firefighter. He had a right to – you might say he had an obligation too. Because the law is the law… and no one is above… OK – let’s not go there.

      So if the law is the law, and we are going to be insanely anal about enforcing the law – then why shouldn’t the officer be cited for interfering with a firefighter in the performance of his duties? The law is the law? Now remember – I don’t think either one of them should be cited – but I think it is hypocritical to cite one saying… well the law is the law… and not say that to the other.

      And lastly… when you are responding to an emergency and you see emergency lights behind you going in the same direction as you, do you pull over or keep driving?

  • Tim Stutzman

    I find the postings here interesting.  However, the answer to all of this is pretty simple.  The Law Enforcement Officer has ultimate authority.  Even if a Fire Fighter or EMT is in an emergency vehicle, let alone their perosnal vehicle, they have to stop for a Law Enforcement Officer.  That may not sit right with allot of people, but again, the Law Enforcement Officer has full authority.  With that said, of course action can be taken afterwards with the Officer's superiors if the Officer's actions are questionable. 

    With all of that said, this specific situation seems very suspicious.  The Officer looking for someone impersonating an Officer.  Well, it was probably someone who called in that this Fire Fighter was doing so not realizing it was a Fire Fighter responding to a call.  It's odd in a smaller community that the Officer was not familiar with the Fire Fighter nor was aware that there was a fire call.  Odd!   Once the Officer arrived at the fire station along with the Fire Fighter, the Officer's actons are what they are.  I mean, there is Officer's safety and of course the Officer can not guarantee that this actually was a Fire Fighter.  However, once the Officer determined it was, it would seem more normal to talk with the Fire Fighter afterwards about the situation.  But of course, it's easy to judge all of this from the side lines without knowing the entire story.

    I think we will all agree that Law Enforcement, EMTs, and Fire Fighters all SHOULD work together and especially in small communities help each other often.

    For the record, my experience is over 25 years in Public Safety (LAW and EMS) and management.  Everyone needs to just get along!  Thank you.

    • Hi Tim

      I agree with your great advice – let's just get along!!! Common sense would solve this problem every single time.

      I have to disagree with your statement that the LEO has the ultimate authority. IMHO that attitude is what  leads to these cases… my badge is bigger than your badge.  When it comes to anyone having the ultimate authority that would be a jury… and short of that it is a judge. Like you, the cops in my family think cops have the ultimate authority… NOT REALLY although certainly cops have the ability to screw with people before a judge and jury get to answer the question decisively.

      Part of the problem is in most states the laws do not clearly distinguish between emergency vehicles. The laws say three things.

      1. Certain vehicles have a right to have red/blue lights and sirens and operate as emergency vehicles.

      2. All other vehicles have to yield the right of way to these emergency vehicles when they are displaying their lights/siren, and specifically pull to the right and stop.

      3. Emergency vehicles are exempted from certain traffic regulations.

      I understand some states do distinguish between police and other emergency vehicles (I didn't know that when this discussion started but I stand corrected) – so my comments are by no means applicable universally to every state. in some states LEOs are entitled to a priority status among emergency vehicles. But even then… think that through.

      I am quite certain as a police officer if you were responding to an emergency and another law enforcement officer was behind you with his lights and siren on… there was a certain assumption you had about what he was doing… and it was not that he was apprehending you. How did that fact escape this officer's consciousness?

      Following the theory that LEO's have the "ultimate" authority" to its logical conclusion – every fire truck or ambulance would be required to pull over for police vehicles responding to the same emergency. Do you seriously believe that is what the state legislature intended when they enacted the motor vehicle laws? Every single time? Unless firefighters and medics are expected to have ESP about the officer's intentions… what is the alternative? Hope that the police officers use good judgment? That’s what raised the issue in the first place.

      As a local LEO responding to an emergency, would you yield the right of way to/pull over for a State Trooper? What if they claimed to have the ultimate authority? (BTW: I am sure we both know some troopers who believe they are the ultimate, don't we).

      Again… I agree with the fact that we have to find a way to work together. It is hard when one group claims they are somehow superior to the others. A little understanding can go a long way.


Check Also

Cleveland Firefighter Accuses FD of Reverse Discrimination

A Cleveland firefighter who claims he was forced to resign after his complaints about a hostile work environment were mishandled, has filed suit claiming the department leadership discriminated against him because he is white. Samuel Livingston claims he was threatened and assaulted while on duty by a colleague who is described in the complaint as “non-Caucasian”.

Shreveport Fire Chief Settles Wrongful Termination Appeal

A painful chapter in the Shreveport Fire Department has finally come to a close with the announcement of a settlement in the wrongful termination appeal of former Fire Chief Craig Mulford. You may recalled in 2014, five Shreveport firefighters were charged criminally with abusing mentally challenged men who frequented their firehouse.