CHULA VISTA, Calif. (AP) – A dispute that ended with a Highway Patrol officer handcuffing a firefighter at a Southern California car crash scene was called an isolated incident by the agencies after a video of the confrontation spread on the Web and was broadcast nationwide.
CHP and Chula Vista Fire Department officials met Wednesday to discuss the dispute, which occurred Tuesday night on Interstate 805 in San Diego County as fire crews were helping victims of a car rollover. One person was taken to a hospital.
Video from KFMB-TV showed a fireman being cuffed after he refused a CHP officer’s order to immediately move a fire engine that was blocking traffic.
The firefighter, a 12 1/2-year veteran, was held in the back of a patrol car for about half an hour and then released without being arrested.
Fire Chief Dave Hanneman said he stood behind the firefighters at the scene.
“My engineers and all the crews did exactly what they’re trained to do,” he told the TV station.
The Fire Department and CHP issued a joint statement Wednesday afternoon saying that they have “the utmost respect for each other.”
“This was an isolated incident and not representative of the manner in which our agencies normally work together toward our common goal” of protecting the public, the statement said.
“This incident will be a topic of future joint training sessions, in an ongoing effort to work more efficiently together,” it added.
On Thursday, CHP Chief Jim Abele attended a scheduled meeting of the San Diego County Fire Chiefs Association to assure them that the confrontation was an “aberration,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
“He told us that they are not going to get into the practice of handcuffing firefighters,” San Diego Fire Chief Javier Mainar said.
The confrontation wasn’t the first between a CHP officer and a firefighter in California.
In 2010, a battalion chief from Montecito in Santa Barbara County was handcuffed when he refused to move a fire engine blocking a freeway lane while responding to a crash.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.