A Helping Hand

Patrick Kelley got a new job working as a switch board operator at Simi Valley Hospital, but getting to work wasn’t easy. Mr. Kelly called the Simi Valley Police Department looking for some direction and a resolution to a problem he was experiencing with a pedestrian crossing signal at Sycamore Drive and the east-bound State Highway 118 off-ramp in Simi Valley. Mr. Kelley spoke to Commander Arabian, who took command of the police department’s traffic unit in May and described the issue.

Mr. Kelley explained that he has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair and regularly travels on Sycamore Drive to and from his place of employment. When he reaches the heavily congested off-ramp at the east-bound State Highway 118 onto Sycamore Dr., he is unable to reach the button on the traffic signal pole for pedestrian crossing. Each day he passed the intersection, he would take the risk of crossing without the benefit of the "WALK" sign providing him with the safe right-of-way. For a few months Mr. Kelley did his best to dodge the ceaseless stream of vehicles coming off of the freeway, from the nearby retail stores and a gas station. He ultimately realized that the issue was bigger than he had originally thought and began working on finding a safe solution.

Mr. Kelley contacted a supervisor at CalTrans who understood the problem, but said due to reduced state budgets and the expense involved in altering the pole, it may take 18 months to two years to correct the issue. Commander Arabian didn’t like the idea of Mr. Kelley being at risk for any period of time, let alone two years.

Based on Mr. Kelley’s information, Commander Arabian set up a meeting with him at the location to evaluate the problem that he was having with the pedestrian crossing signal. Commander Arabian quickly realized that the set-back of the pole from the sidewalk created a situation where Mr. Kelley could not reach the button while seated in his

 wheelchair. That’s when Arabian went to work.

After getting off work, Commander Arabian went to a local hardware store and purchased some materials with his own money. 

Among the items purchased were PVC pipe, brass fittings, a bicycle handlebar grip, and rubber. With the items in hand and a concept in mind, Arabian fabricated a device designed to reach the pole so that Mr. Kelley could use it to press the button and safely cross the intersection. Arabian took the new tool to Dick Kranzler, a local sign shop owner and long-time Police Volunteer, who added custom striping to the device.

When the device was complete, Commander Arabian met Mr. Kelley while he was on his way to work and presented him with the homemade apparatus. Mr. Kelley was thrilled and grateful when he saw what Arabian had done and is now successfully using the stick. 

“I know he’s probably just say that he’s doing his job,” Kelley said. “He didn’t have to do it.”

“I don’t look at it as going above and beyond,” Arabian said. “It’s what we should do. We should solve people’s problems.”

That’s not what Kelley thinks. “It’s definitely going above and beyond,” he said.

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Comments on "A Helping Hand"

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Steve Belcher - Friday, January 08, 2016
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Great job commander! I am sure Mr. Kelly will tell everyone at work, who will tell others. A great example of caring for members of the community and community policing problem solving. Steve Belcher Pacific Grove PD

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