Monday evening the Plymouth Common Council heard the concerns of Jan Lemler, a new city resident as of October 1st. In his request, he stated he wanted to discuss an incident that occurred on October 23rd at 12:30 p.m. with Plymouth Police Officer John Weir and the actions of Police Chief Dave Bacon.
Lemler said his concerns involved a near-miss accident on South Michigan Street with a Plymouth Police Officer. He said he reported the incident the day it happened to the Plymouth Police Department but because it was a Sunday, he had to report it through 911. Lemler said he followed up his concerns on three occasions the following week with two officers, the Assistant Chief of Police and the Chief of Police.
Mr. Lemler also contacted Marshall County Sheriff Matt Hassel whom he said told him, “The officer that was involved in this incident was in the wrong.” Lemler said, “I’m fortunate to be here because of that incident.”
Lemler said in his last conversation with Chief Bacon he said the matter was being taken care of. He also mentioned that he is a retired Assistance Safety Director for Pioneer Hybrid in Plymouth, and he knows the traffic laws very well. He went on to say a solid white line in the State of Indiana is not a passing zone.
Mr. Lemler then described the situation saying, “A police officer passed on the right side of a vehicle and was going around it. Number one, that’s illegal number two no one is above the law and three, fortunately, I was on guard.”
Mayor Mark Senter asked which direction of travel Mr. Jan Lemler was traveling and he said he was northbound on the southbound shoulder of Michigan Street on his bicycle. Lemler said he knows bikers are supposed to travel with traffic but that day it wasn’t safe to he was riding against traffic. Lemler once again said, “Sheriff Matt Hassel affirmed that a solid white line is not a passing lane for anyone period.”
Plymouth Police Chief Dave Bacon was then asked to discuss the issue with the City Council. The Chief said there had been a prior interaction with Mr. Lemler earlier on the morning of Sunday, October 23rd when Officer John Weir was asked to serve him with a No trespass Order from the Trinity United Methodist Church. The chief said Mr. Lemler was upset with the No Trespass Order.
The chief then described the situation as Officer Weir was southbound on Michigan Street in his patrol vehicle and a vehicle was turning left into Family Express. Officer Weir and another vehicle behind him passed on the right. He then quoted IC 9-21-8-6 Overtaking and passing on the right; conditions of
Sec. 6. (a) A person who drives a vehicle may overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle only under the following conditions:
(1) When the vehicle overtaken is making or about to make a left turn.
(b) A person who drives a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right only under conditions that permit overtaking upon the right in safety. Overtaking upon the right may not be made by driving off the roadway.
The police chief said the shoulder is part of the roadway and the white line is the fog line. He continued, “There is no statute saying you cannot cross the white line. It says you can’t cross the center line but there is nothing that says you can’t cross the white line.” The chief affirmed that Officer Weir obeyed the traffic laws and Mr. Lelmer, who was northbound on the southbound side of the road was on the wrong side of the street. Chief Bacon said his complaint was handled appropriately at the department level and noted there is a bump-out that was built when Family Express went in to allow traffic to pass on the right.
Mr. Lemler said the chief’s statement had false truths in it and wanted to counter the statement. He said he has asked for an investigation that day and it was denied. Lemler also contends that the incident happened beyond both driveways for Family Express and Dollar General. He contends that the individual the officer passed wasn’t even turning.
Councilman Jeff Houin asked what Mr. Lemler was asking the city council to do and he said he wanted city officers to be trained on the laws of the State of Indiana. Again he said, “A solid white line is not a passing lane.”
Chief Bacon commented that Officer Weir has worked for the Plymouth Police Department for more than 20 years. He is one of the most active officers and writes a lot of tickets and is well-versed in traffic laws. Officer Weir did supply the chief and assistant chief with a written explanation of his interaction with Mr. Lemler before he was even asked and before Mr. Lemler even filed a complaint.
Lemler asked about the video of the incident and learned that the video activates when the officer turns on their overhead lights.
Jan Lemler closed his comments by saying, “I don’t care what you do with this. If this continues the perfect storm is being set up. I didn’t get killed, but if this is allowed to continue with officers that are not trained properly someone is going to get hurt.”