Police Officers Find That Dissent on Drug Laws May Come With a Price

NY Times:

Police Officers Find That Dissent on Drug Laws May Come With a Price

PHOENIX — Border Patrol agents pursue smugglers one moment and sit around in boredom the next. It was during one of the lulls that Bryan Gonzalez, a young agent, made some comments to a colleague that cost him his career.
Stationed in Deming, N.M., Mr. Gonzalez was in his green-and-white Border Patrol vehicle just a few feet from the international boundary when he pulled up next to a fellow agent to chat about the frustrations of the job. If marijuana were legalized, Mr. Gonzalez acknowledges saying, the drug-related violence across the border in Mexico would cease. He then brought up an organization called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition that favors ending the war on drugs.

Those remarks, along with others expressing sympathy for illegal immigrants from Mexico, were passed along to the Border Patrol headquarters in Washington. After an investigation, a termination letter arrived that said Mr. Gonzalez held “personal views that were contrary to core characteristics of Border Patrol Agents, which are patriotism, dedication and esprit de corps.”

After his dismissal, Mr. Gonzalez joined a group even more exclusive than the Border Patrol: law enforcement officials who have lost their jobs for questioning the war on drugs and are fighting back in the courts.

In Arizona, Joe Miller, a probation officer in Mohave County, near the California border, filed suit last month in Federal District Court after he was dismissed for adding his name to a letter by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which is based in Medford, Mass., and known as LEAP, expressing support for the decriminalization of marijuana.
“More and more members of the law enforcement community are speaking out against failed drug policies, and they don’t give up their right to share their insight and engage in this important debate simply because they receive government paychecks,” said Daniel Pochoda, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, which is handling the Miller case.

Mr. Miller was one of 32 members of LEAP who signed the letter, which expressed support for a California ballot measure that failed last year that would have permitted recreational marijuana use. Most of the signers were retired members of law enforcement agencies, who can speak their minds without fear of action by their bosses. But Mr. Miller and a handful of others who were still on the job — including the district attorney for Humboldt County in California and the Oakland city attorney — signed, too.

So cops aren’t allowed to criticise the laws they are enforcing? I’d be more concerned about one who passively fails to enforce the law, or worse, a corrupt officer who loudly supports the law but takes bribes.

The ex-officers can hardly be counted upon to vigorously enforce laws with which they disagree. Legalizing marijuana will cause mayhem in our society and should be resisted at every level, especially law enforcement.

Police have a very difficult job. It would be rather unfortunate if, on top of that, they are also required to surrender their freedom of speech.

This isn’t a typical employer we’re dealing with here, it’s the government - so it’s a forced monopoly. That’s why it would be unfair to fire them for exercising their 1st amendment rights.

I’m a teacher and I have encountered the same type of thinking in my profession. We are constantly “asked” to support various left-wing causes, and chided when we don’t go along with it. I’m afraid about where this is going… imagining the day when no one but socialists are allowed to teach.

I agree with you there. As long as the officer is actually imposing the law expressing an opinion should have no bearing on them being able to keep their job.

Sorry for being unclear. I meant to point out that his termination letter made no reference to his job performance, only to his political reliability:

After an investigation, a termination letter arrived that said Mr. Gonzalez held “personal views that were contrary to core characteristics of Border Patrol Agents, which are patriotism, dedication and esprit de corps.”

Dedication to what? The Constitution, rule of law & all that good stuff – or the Border Patrol? As for “esprit de corps” that can be a good thing or it can turn into an “Us v. Them” attitude.

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