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Citizen Ticketed For Directing Traffic After Police Fail To In South Pasadena

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(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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SOUTH PASADENA (CBS) — We’ve all heard the saying: no good deed goes unpunished . . . and that’s exactly what happened to a South Pasadena resident who was issued a ticket by police for his charitable act.

When a major traffic light in the area went out Thursday morning, Alan Ehrlich took matters into his own hands, directing traffic at Fair Oaks and Huntington avenues.

“I grabbed a bright orange shirt that I have and a couple of orange safety flags. I took it upon myself to help get motorists through that intersection faster,” said Ehrlich.

Before Ehrlich stepped in, traffic was backed up for more than a mile and it took more than 30 minutes to get through the busy intersection.

Ehrlich said the Sept. 8 incident wasn’t the first and that the light goes out regularly.

“It was just kind of chaos of cars . . . there were stop signs up. But people were challenging each other to get through the intersection,” said Richard Gerrish who works at an office located at the intersection.

Gerrish said Ehrlich cleared up the mess in 10 minutes. After 15 minutes, South Pasadena police say they finally received a call about their newest traffic officer.

Police responded to the scene and told Ehrlich to stop and issued him a ticket, but never stepped into direct traffic themselves.

“I don’t know if this ticket is $50 or $400 dollars. It’s a small price to pay for the greater good,” Ehrlich said.

South Pasadena Police Chief Joe Payne said he did not have the man power needed to staff officers at Fair Oaks and Huntington Thursday and that is safer to allow traffic to back up.

“We have limited resources . . . we need to prioritize them. One of the major intersections out at rush hour in our city should be a priority,” Ehrlich added.

He already has plans to address the matter at an upcoming city council meeting.

Police and the city of South Pasadena say they currently have no plans to change any procedures.

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