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by Peter Moskos

February 11, 2011

Police Officers and Free Speech

Deputy Probation Officer Joe Miller signed a letter in support of California's Proposition 19 (marijuana legalization). A disclaimer made it clear that he did not represent the viewpoint of the Mohave County Probation Department.

Officer Miller was fired. Maybe you think a police officer should never have an opinion on anything. I can understand saying a police officer should not advocate breaking the law. But that is something else. All people, police included, should be able to express their personal opinion about public referendums without fear of retribution.

One can only wonder... actually, no: one doesn't have to wonder at all. Nothing would would have happened to Officer Miller if he had signed a letter in support of less restrictive gun laws. Or even gay marriage, pro or con. But he thinks drugs laws should be (gasp) changed.

Whether or not you agree with Miller's (or my) position, stand up for workers' rights and free speech. Sign a petition in his support.

So what it is with drugs? Yes, drug use is a crime. But it's just a crime. There are lots of crimes. Why is law enforcement so obsessed with drugs? I didn't get it before I was a cop; I didn't get it when I was cop; and, Heavens to Betsy, I still don't get it!


Dana King said...

I happen to agree with his position, but that's not why I signed the petition. Police officers, like the military, do have to give up a few rights for the job. it's part of the deal. This should only apply to such things as would hamper them in the performance of their duties, or to place themselves, or others, in danger. This doesn't apply.

Anonymous said...

I gladly signed this petition for at least three reasons:

1.) I support Miller's right to express himself as a private citizen.

2.) I agree with Miller's stance on the issue. Honest peace officers SHOULD question ineffective and dangerous laws and policies.

3.) This could be me. If I decide to work in a public sector position as a peace officer, I do not intend to stop talking about this issue. I also intend to become an official member of LEAP (I am an associate member now, since I work in the private sector). So yeah, it could happen to me.

Diane said...

As a retired Lieutenant and a member of LEAP I appreciate your post. As we all know there is a two prong test for 1st amendment speech by government workers. He clearly did not violate it, what concerns me is that our supposed leaders and policy-makers are now afraid of the truth and facts. It is time for an honest conversation about our drug policy and its impact on our economy and on the true administration of justice.

We are quagmired in "group think" and our leaders refuse to listen. It is time for all of us as current and former law enforcement representatives to stand up and support DPO Miller, because really our oaths of office and codes of conduct makes us accountable to the public and the communities we serve.

Diane Goldstein
Lieutenant, Retired (Redondo Beach)