I think of this as an over reaction and over reach of a government that turns every little incident into a federal case. Before we go any further, here is the background on this story. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-obama-photo-policetre81s072-20120228,0,7342283.story
I am appalled at the speed in which we are losing our freedom. http://bulletsbeansandbullion.blogspot.com/2012/02/19-signs-that-america-has-become-crazy.html
Now many of you know- I am a city cop and Chief hailing from small town America. I am going to land on the side of a 25 year police sergeant who up until recently- had First Amendment rights. This man may have actually saved lives which might be worth more than the entire lot of Peorian politicians and their obedient charges- throwing lonely cops under buses.
It doesn't really matter whether you like the photo or not. Was a law broken here? And absent that- what police department policy was broken? And absent that, what is the proper thing to do ethically and morally? Is posting that photo above, worthy of a career demotion and two weeks unpaid leave? I'm not sure. I think it's over kill. But that's what happens when a bunch of obedient, embarrassed, and cowardly administrators feel threatened. It is easy to scapegoat some poor sap while you claim victim status for yourselves. Don't think the risk managers and lawyers haven't thought this through.
It takes a Police Chief with huge balls to stand up to such a firestorm and quite frankly, I'm not available any longer. Police Chiefs with balls do not last long in the political storm of city politics. Mostly they suck up and try to preserve their jobs. I get that. That just wasn't my style.
I can honestly say- I never kissed political ass. I can also say, I am no longer in law enforcement. As it happens, that is not such a coincidence and may have something to do with my particular "style."
Let me explain how this works.
Somebody reported this photo to the Feds or via some branch of law enforcement. Someone started making calls to local officials in Peoria. Nobody can make a big deal out of nothing better than attorneys. They are professionals. Probably the local district attorney's office, the Mayor, City Administrator, City Attorney, Police Chief. Maybe the FBI or other collateral agents descended on the City of Peoria and the police department. The U.S. Attorney might have gotten involved. Oh and of course the press. It would have been an embarrassing shit storm in the initial discovery phase.
In the duck and cover world where everyone protects their asses and jobs at all costs- this sergeant never stood a chance.Why? Because the world is full of cowards- that's why. And at the end of the day- everyone involved in this will cover their own asses.
They will say, "this guy deserves all of this." Because it is convenient to their careers.
What I am saying is this. They will not do the right and just thing- they will do the thing that is PERCEIVED to be the right thing. There is a huge difference.
But the truth is- it really is just a run of the mill policy break. Every police policy manual in the nation has some broad sweeping section, a catch all, to ensnare bizarre actions that nobody could have possible foreseen. This would include posting a legal picture, on a legal website, on a legal computer.
In fact, on this link if you play the video at about halfway through you will hear a recitation of one of these CS policies. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/01/27/arizona-cop-investigated-over-bullet-riddled-picture-of-obama/ A policy for social media? Sure. Law enforcement agencies dream up policy for everything. I have seen department policy manuals a foot thick that covered farting in public. I am not making that up.
In this case, clearly the sergeant broke no laws. So that wasn't even a consideration from the outset.
With that in mind, all that was left was the administrative punishment. This is the one where the obedient officials in some unifying effort to save face and potential embarrassment must come up with a suitable punishment. Not the appropriate one mind you. The one that APPEARS to the public as the appropriate one.
Now there will always be someone out there who will say, they should have fired him. I want to remind you. This is free speech, practiced on your own computer, on your own time. You have broken no laws. The only mistake you have made- IF ANY- was putting up a photo that is offensive and which may have embarrassed your employer. Policy can be challenged. Just because somebody dreams it up- doesn't mean it's legal.
I've given this a lot of thought tonight. What would I have done if it were left to me by a Mayor that promised to stand behind me?
There is no way in hell that I would have demoted this guy and ruined his career because of one solitary lapse in judgment. (Now if there are other lapses or mitigating factors, nobody is mentioning them.)
A week or two on the beach- suspended without pay? Maybe. I even think that might be harsh. When I think of all of the corrupt things our man on the t-shirt has done- including giving every banker a get out of jail free card... Oh and Solyndra. Who can forget Obama's best friend- Jon Corzine, literally stealing 1.6 billion in customer accounts and walking away from MF Global? I think of Eric Holder lying under oath, causing the deaths of hundreds of people including our own citizens and suing Arizona...and I am shocked. These are real crimes with intent and malice, real lawsuits and damages. Real HUGE lapses in judgment. I wish they had only been posted on FB. Losses in the millions. Powerful criminals who operate shamelessly above the law.
Thankfully we have the time to nail that social blogger and poor judgment user. We can nail his ass- he is low hanging fruit. Pat Shearer, new patrolman. Peoria sells out. Not a testicle in the bunch.