Shawn Fordham, Aide to Philadelphia Mayor John Street, Warned Regarding Traffic Violation

August 15, 2000

Los Angeles – On Friday, August 18, 2000, at approximately 5:00 P.M., Los Angeles Police Officers effected a traffic stop of a pedestrian in the area of 6th Street and Los Angeles Street, for Pedestrian Crossing Against a Red Light, violation of Section 21453(d) of the California Vehicle Code. The violator delayed in identifying himself, instead choosing to emphasize his position as an Aide to the Mayor of Philadelphia.

As the officers began to complete the traffic citation, the violator continued with his antagonistic attitude toward the officers and told them that he was not going to sign the citation. During the session, a vehicle, carrying Philadelphia Mayor John Street and other individuals, arrived at the scene. The Mayor injected himself into the situation, advising the officers of who he was and of the fact that the detainee was his aide. The officers respectfully advised the Mayor of the reason for the citation. The Mayor, visibly upset, advised the officers that he was not going to allow the violator to sign the citation. He demanded to have the Los Angeles Mayor and Chief of Police respond to the location.

At the request of the involved officers, a supervising Sergeant responded to the scene and tried to explain the Department’s policy regarding the issuance of traffic citations. This was all to no avail. Shortly thereafter, a Lieutenant of Police responded to the scene. At the sight of the Lieutenant, the Mayor questioned if this was all he could get. The supervising Lieutenant explained to the Mayor and the violator, as the officers had previously done, the Department’s policy that signing the citation was not an admission of guilt but rather a promise to appear in court.

The Mayor verbally berated the officers, accusing them of harassment and of singling out his staff. Again, the lieutenant tried to explain the Department’s policy to the group, but to no avail. At some point during the episode, the officers at the scene were able to telephonically contact Chief of Police Bernard C. Parks.

After a brief conversation between Chief Parks and Mayor Street, the decision was made to issue a warning rather than a citation. In accordance with Department policy, a business card was provided to the Mayor and his staff, listing the name of the involved officers and their division of assignment. The officers then left the location.

Chief Bernard Parks stated, "As they have been encouraged, the officers were simply attempting to enforce traffic violations. During 1999, in the City of Los Angeles, 134 pedestrians were fatally or seriously injured in traffic collisions where the pedestrians were deemed at fault. During the first half of this year, that number has already reached 127. Our officers acted appropriately and professionally."

This press release was prepared by Lieutenant Horace E. Frank, Media Relations Section, 213-485-3586.