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Traffic-Directing Citizen Found Not Guilty

Alan Ehrlich was originally fined $193 for directing traffic at the corner of Fair Oaks and Huntington Drive when a traffic light went out in September.

South Pas resident Alan Ehrlich——was found not guilty Monday at L.A. Superior Court. 

"The judge recognized my civic volunteerism and could not find any code section that might have been applicable, not even jaywalking," Ehrlich wrote in a letter to his friends and family Monday.

Ehrlich was originally fined $193 for vehicle code citation, 21956 (a) Pedestrian in Roadway, which he posted as bail when he pleaded not guilty at an arraignment in November. 

While the traffic backed up due to unplanned down traffic light, SPPD said Ehrlich put himself and others in danger. 

"Mr. Ehrlich was waving cars through posted stop signs and causing a very dangerous condition," " ... When signals are out and temporary signs are posted, we do not direct traffic."

Traffic Flow Management 

Since cited, Ehrlich says he's met with various law enforcement and City staff including City managers, officers and staff at L.A. City Department of Transportation and the LAPD.

He's also appeared before both the South Pas City Council and Public Safety Commission (PSC) to push for a better City policy in regards to effective traffic flow management. 

"The Public Safety Commission is coming up to speed on the issues outlined by Mr. Ehrlich, but we are not in a position to make any policy recommendations at present," said PSC Chair Charles Minning. 

"We also feel that these issues should be jointly addressed by both the PSC and the Transportation Commission."

Implementing a Plan

One of Ehrlich's suggestions involves invoking a Mutual Aid Agreement with neighboring communities—like Alhambra and Pasadena—that have Traffic Control Officers (TCOs) on staff. (TCOs don't carry or use force service weapons but are specially trained to direct and expedite traffic.)

His vision also includes training and deputizing civilian volunteers. Yet Police Chief Joe Payne says that idea would put both the volunteers and motorists in danger—in addition to exposing the City to liability.

"We have had many discussions at the staff level. Some of [Ehrlich's] ideas have merit, while other do not," said Payne. 

"The most promising initiative being implemented by public works is a back-up battery power source for critical signalized intersections. That plan is moving forward as funding allows," he continued. 

Regardless, Ehrlich remains hopeful. 

"The processes of government moves slowly, but I remain optimistic that eventually better polices and solutions can and will be put in place," he concluded in his letter to friends and family Monday afternoon. 

Related: 

Todd Flink December 17, 2011 at 05:35 AM
Ok how about this... take officers off of vice and put them out there to direct traffic. I think they could relax their case load in times of emergency... I don't think the city will be hit by a wave of rouge hookers that will cause total chaos.
marty c December 23, 2011 at 05:36 PM
The fine should have been upheld by the courts - The individual was acting in liu of the signage. If the individual had caused an accident he would have been financially and criminally accountable. In a wide spread emergency - the temporay signs are used when the police are spread too thin to be at every intersection with an outage and their first priority are based on reacting to changing situation.
marty c December 23, 2011 at 05:39 PM
Next time you see a crime in progress and no police around call Alan Ehrlich.
marty c December 23, 2011 at 05:49 PM
You dont sound very thoughtful - there was a major power outage over a large area which included street lights. Who do you pay for your electric? Who repairs? Who should put flag men out when street light repairs are on going? Who was responsible for trees and branches falling - causing power outages and street blockage? Get real.
jacksprat December 24, 2011 at 03:58 AM
Hey Marty, I think the word discombobulated would be the best word to describe your mind set. It's quite obvious based on what you wrote you don't know what you're talking about. This incident did not happen during the wind storm. So next time you decide to chime in do your research first. I have respect for Alan for doing what he did...you on the other hand don't even deserve an honorable mention.

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