When cops criticize BLM on social media

Police officers in various jurisdictions are being disciplined, and even fired, for expressing negative views about the BLM movement and protests. Here, from the Washington Times, are a few examples:

Two policewomen in New Jersey were fired [in one case] or demoted [in the other] for calling BLM protesters “terrorists”. . . .

Another law enforcement officer recently got in trouble for his online response to basketball great LeBron James’s tweet about a Columbus, Ohio, policeman fatally shooting a knife-wielding teenage girl involved in a street fight. “You’re next,” Mr. James wrote.

So you don’t care if a Black person kills another Black person, but you do care if a White cop kills a Black person, even if he’s doing it to save the life of another Black person?” [the policeman] asks in the video, in which his department affiliation is not shown.

He was suspended for a week.

In Norfolk, Virginia, police Lt. William Kelly anonymously donated $25 to the defense fund for Kyle Rittenhouse, who stands accused of murder and attempted murder after shooting people during rioting last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin. “Don’t be discouraged by the political class of law enforcement leadership,” Mr. Kelly wrote, without identifying himself or his department.

After what the police union in Norfolk labeled a cursory investigation, Mr. Kelly was fired. He has since sued the city.

I think it’s reasonable for police departments and city officials to want police employees to refrain from publicly commenting about law enforcement issues. But if an officer is punished for doing so, it should be pursuant to a policy that was communicated to that officer before he or she made the comment deemed objectionable.

In addition, the policy limiting speech should apply to all public discussion of policing and law enforcement issues, regardless of which side of the political divide it takes.

I suspect that only one side is being punished for speaking out. In fact, says the Times, “in the most recent examples, all of the officers took what might be dubbed a conservative or pro-police viewpoint and were harshly disciplined.”

In the case of the two New Jersey officers, for example, the political body that terminated one and suspended the other is comprised solely of Democrats,” according to their attorney. If so, it’s unlikely that an officer who publicly expressed a pro-BLM position on social media would be disciplined at all.

A number of these cases are in court or headed there. We’ll see how that litigation goes.

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