Frisco enacts ordinance to keep citizens off medians

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by JOBIN PANICKER

WFAA

Posted on March 20, 2014 at 5:07 PM

FRISCO — Many knew Ron Martin of Frisco as the man with the sign... but he may now be the man behind a law.

On Tuesday night, the City of Frisco adopted an ordinance that would keep the public off the medians.

Officers handcuffed Martin along a median on Eldorado Parkway near Preston Road last October for holding a sign that alerted drivers to a speed trap nearby. He said the speed trap was “unsafe,” and he said he was looking out for the public’s safety.

Ron Martin argues he has a First Amendment right to warn drivers of a police speed trap in his community after officers arrested him for violating the city’s sign ordinance.

“It’s just frustrating that they just will not let it go,” said Martin, who contends the city is still trying to fight what he alleges was an unwarranted arrest.

“This was never about him holding a sign. This was not a First Amendment case,” said Frisco Police Chief John Bruce.

Bruce talked about the subject publicly for the first time. He understands the cell phone video of Martin's arrest has gone viral, and he knows it has generated a lot of public interest.

But Bruce also says that Martin’s arrest alerted him to gaps in the city laws in terms of how the department polices medians.

“This is just a reaction to Ron Martin,” said Martin’s attorney Mark Meisinger. “It’s their way of going, ‘we weren’t wrong,’ even though they were.”

In February, a judge dismissed a misdemeanor charge against Martin, and the chief said there is no plan to re-file. But Bruce backs his officer’s decision to arrest Martin.

“We give officers the discretion that they can warn, they can cite, and they can arrest,” the chief said.

Martin and his attorney may pursue legal action unless he gets an apology... and the city stops the alleged “unsafe speed traps." He said his arrest was unwarranted.

“It just lets you know they took it personal, and I was the martyr, and I was the one that had to take the fall for it,” Martin said.

Chief Bruce said his priority is public safety, and he believes Frisco’s new median law accomplishes that.

Once the law has been posted, it will take a month to implement. Chief Bruce said people caught on the medians within the first several weeks will be given warnings.

E-mail jpanicker@wfaa.com

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