Cop ‘moons’ Clinton sign, spurs free speech debate
When an Oelwein Police Department reserve officer “mooned” and pointed a gun at a Hillary Clinton yard sign, was it legally protected free expression or misconduct meriting disciplinary action?
That’s the debate after a photo of the act surfaced on social media last week.
The incident has prompted an “internal review,” Oelwien Police Chief Jeremy Logan said.
Whether reserve officer Jay Perkins should face discipline depends on whether he was serving in an official capacity when the photo was taken, according to legal experts.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a police officer can be subject to discipline for political speech or behavior if it’s done in an “official capacity,” said Rita Bettis, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa. “So here, the factors like whether the officer was on duty or in uniform may play an important part of the analysis,” she said.
Perkins is not wearing a police uniform in the photo. He is grinning widely with his black pants hanging just below his exposed buttocks, which are pointed at a blue Clinton/Kaine sign.
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