A Lakewood, NJ, Hatzolah member was on the way to a call Monday afternoon in the vicinity of River Avenue and Prospect Street, near Kimball Medical Center, when he was pulled over by Patrolman Dennis Scanell.
The Hatzolah member had his lights and sirens on at the time, but was strongly reprimanded by the officer and questioned regarding his destination.
The Hatzolah volunteer tried to explain that he was on his way to an emergency call, which is why his lights and sirens were on. The patrolman responded that he would be issuing a summons. The Hatzolah member finally prevailed upon the officer to allow him to proceed to the call, but not before the officer said he would be mailing a summons for a violation. He also told the Hatzolah member to keep his lights and siren off for the duration of the call.
In response to concern regarding this incident, Committeeman Meir Lichtenstiein, who serves as the Township Committee liaison to the Police Department, released the following statement:
“It is always upsetting when a volunteer Hatzolah member gets stopped. Hatzolah members should not feel restricted from responding appropriately to calls.
“Patients deserve a timely response and indeed there are situations where seconds count.
“The Lakewood Police Department and Hatzolah have a system in place where supervisors can talk to each other about any incidents and take appropriate steps when necessary.
“Hatzolah has also provided LPD with a list of the member’s responding cars.
“LPD can, and in fact has, called Hatzolah dispatch to verify responding vehicles. This system works and allows all agencies to perform their responsibilities without delaying patient care.
“It is extremely frustrating and uncalled for when this system is not adhered to.
“I spoke to the [Police] Chief [Rob Lawson] who assured me that today’s incident is being investigated. I am certain appropriate measures will be taken and that the good relationship between LPD and Hatzolah will continue.”
The officer, in response to criticism of his actions, claims that that he stopped the driver for driving southbound in the northbound lanes of River Avenue at 50 mph and for traveling for more than one-quarter of a mile in this fashion.