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Readers mourn fallen Alhambra officer and respond to anti-Asian bias accusations in fire department

Source readers mourned the loss of Officer Ryan Stringer, an Alhambra police officer who died after colliding with Officer Carlos Mejia. Both men were responding to a reported robbery when they crashed at Garfield Avenue and Main Street. Readers also commented on an article about two former fire department employees who are suing the city of Alhambra for wrongful termination. Plaintiff Ken Toh claims he experienced anti-Asian bias while at the fire department.

Condolences poured in from Alhambra residents this week, offering words of comfort to Officer Stringer’s family and admiration for the police force. “I did not know Officer Stringer but I am sure he was a fine young man and a great officer,” wrote Guillermo Martinez. “The Alhambra Police Department and the citizens of Alhambra lost a good man who was responding to a call to duty.”

“Our condolences to all those who have been touched by Officer Ryan Stringer,” the Alhambra Teachers Association wrote. “The Alhambra Community is saddened by this untimely loss.”

But a couple readers questioned the circumstances of Officer Stringer’s death, in particular how two police vehicles could collide. “As a community member,” Long-timer wrote, “it deeply disturbs me that these officers were traveling at a high rate speed of speed through Garfield and Main…Where is the common sense?”

"Everyone, please remember to be respectful of others during a tragedy,” responded Dan Bednarski. “Officer Stringer lost his life, his family and friends are mourning their loss, Alhambra Police Department lost an officer, and another officer is in critical condition. This is not the time to speculate publicly about what happened, the cause of injuries, whether either officer was reckless, or following department protocol.”

In another story involving city agencies, some readers disputed Toh’s claim, according to an LA Weekly story, that fire department had an anti-Asian bias. “I don't buy Toh's story at all,” wrote Tommy Wilson O’Brien. “He didn't do his job according to the Fire Dept's policies and guidelines and now is crying racism!!”

Tricky also refuted Toh’s claim of racism, defending fire department officials. “Toh’s comment, ‘They called me “broken toe” because of my last name…I was very offended and there was nothing he could do.’ The nickname ‘broken toe’ came about when Toh had broken his foot and was in a cast. Toh was asked specifically, if the term offended him and he laughed and said no. If it bothered him, why didn’t he say so when he was asked? And now he throws this out there as racial discrimination?…It appears to me Toh overstepped his authority; that is what this is all about.”

Dan Bednarski responded to this as well, challenging both commenters. "I agree that we should hire the most qualified person but at no time should the hiring decision be tainted by race or ethnicity," Bednarski wrote. "That said, the fire and police departments should have staff members including investigators who are trained and conversant in the common Asian languages. Our public safety agencies must be able to communicate with our community members. Our safety requires it.”

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