Sterling Heights City Councilman under fire for calling 911 about backhoe in street

On 911 call Councilman Paul Smith can be heard shouting at driver

By Roger Weber - Reporter

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. - An unwelcome construction vehicle on a street in Sterling Heights led one city council member to call 911 and stand in front of the bull dozer until police arrived.

Councilman Paul Smith called 911 dispatch while blocking the path of a backhoe and yelling at the driver. On the 911 recordings you can hear Smith saying, "I'm a city councilman. I'm telling you to stop. I'm ordering you to stop now."

The backhoe was helping build the Cobble Creek subdivision near Smith's home, but when it went onto the street Smith stood right in front of it like the iconic picture at Tieneman Square.

In one exchange with the 911 dispatcher Smith is heard explaining why he was standing in front of the construction equipment.

911 dispatcher: "Why did you take it upon yourself to block this vehicle? You don't know who's driving it."

Councilman Smith: "I wanted to, I wanted to, I wanted to be here when the police get here so he can't deny this."

Smith complained that the backhoe had no license plate, but Sterling Heights police say a plate wasn't needed because the vehicle had the required yellow flashing lights. The developer in Cobble Creek says Smith owes the backhoe driver an apology.

"I did listen to the 911 tape and I was appalled by his actions. He basically shutdown my site for over an hour, maybe an hour and a half, and that costs money," said developer Joe Iacopelli.

The 911 dispatcher urged Smith to move away from the backhoe, but Smith stood his ground.

The developer now plans to file a temporary restraining order against Smith. Smith insists this was an emergency situation because the backhoe did not belong on the street and it was endangering public safety.

The mayor of Sterling Heights said Smith should not have called 911.

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