Chula Vista, CA - Firefighter Jacob Gregoire was arrested by a cop who showed no regard for accident victims during an active rescue. The two victims were involved in a rollover crash on the 805 freeway Tuesday night around 9:20 p.m..
Firefighter Gregoire drove his fire truck to the scene and parked it to block the accident scene. The rescuers proceeded to go to work assisting passenger in both vehicles. And then the cops showed up. From there things went to hell in a hurry.
Here’s the video:
All hail. The cops are here.
An unnamed CHP cop pulled on scene and directed Firefighter Gregoire to move the fire truck from the center divider.
Chula Vista Fire Chief Dave Hanneman said,
“Our firefighters are trained to use the engine to protect the scene. Our No. 1 priority is the safety of our firefighters and patients.”
So, Gregoire refused and continued with his rescue attempt. The local CBS affiliate reported, “things escalated quickly from there.”
At this point the CHP cop threatened to arrest Gregoire.
The cop commanded, “No, you need to move now or you’ll be arrested.”
Is arresting firefighters normal?
There is a normal protocol for incident scenes. Cops can verbally take command of the scene. This cop didn’t. He assumed he was in charge and everyone around him should do as there told. But he wasn’t. In a para-military type organization there is a chain of command and proper procedure. The cop ignored that.
Orange County Fire Authority Captain Steve Concialdi specifically said,
“The protocol for the fire department is to protect the scene. When we arrive on these traffic accidents cars are going at a high rate of speed especially at night. We will block lanes to protect our firefighters and our paramedics,”
Concialdi said he believed Gregoire acted appropriately and added,
“More firefighters and police officers are hurt on the freeway or on the side of a major road than in a gun battle or in a fire,”
Don’t you think the firefighter did the right thing? There’s an accident on the highway. Rescuers pull up and block the scene to avoid possibility of further injury. How many times have you seen cops and firefighters alike use that exact tactic? Its completely normal.
Cops give orders. They don’t take them.
But this cop wasn’t having the attitude. This cop was going to show everyone who was boss. And in full view of TV cameras, handcuffed Firefighter Gregoire while on-scene, in uniform and placed him in the back of a squad car. Never checking the status of the scene or condition of the victims.
Gregoire was overheard saying,
“It’s unbelievable you guys have to treat us like this. We are trying to help you guys,”
To wit the cop replied,
“We asked you to clear the road, you said ‘No.’ You are being arrested for not moving.”
Except there was no we. This was the action of one cop that was more concerned with having people obey him than he was concerned with serving and protecting them. You can see the video HERE.
Rescuer firefighter is rescued.
Firefighter Gregoire was held in the squad car for about a half an hour until supervisors from both agencies arrived. At which point smarter, cooler heads prevailed. The firefighter was released and is not being charged.
CHP told news outlets that they weren’t offering comment until the incident was investigated. Hanneman told CBS,
“To detain one of our firefighters in the middle of an incident is ridiculous.”
Afterward and behind closed doors a joint statement was crafted with the Chula Vista Fire Department. The CHP wrote,
“This was an isolated incident and not representative of the manner in which our agencies normally work together toward our common goal.”
Covering up for one another? You bet. They do have to work with one another. But there is no excuse for this level of disrespect.
Whether the man was a firefighter, public servant or a regular guy on the street. Until we begin exposing every incident of police abuse of power and express outrage and dissatisfaction nothing will change.
Who polices the police? We do. If you’re involved or a witness, contact your local TV stations. Take video. Record everything. And then demand that action be taken. Because in this incident, this cop had no action taken against him. Sure, maybe he got a verbal reprimand for making the department look bad. But, he’s still out there protecting and serving. Doesn’t that make you feel safe?