For small towns, the chief of police can be a very well-known figure or pillar of the community. This can mean any actions or statements he or she makes in public, even when not on duty, can be related to how others may see his or her ability to do the job. Recently, an outspoken police chief has found himself under fire for viewpoints and actions and it could cost him his job. If fired, the chief vows to pursue a wrongful termination suit. Any public figure in Colorado who faces termination and thinks their viewpoints or opinions may be the root cause may want to follow the case.
The cop was first suspended after posting YouTube videos of himself denouncing those with liberal political beliefs and ranting obscenities followed by long-lasting gunfire. The videos garnered over 1 million views and national attention for the small town. He contends it is the videos and his viewpoints that have led to the movement to fire him as police chief and he is now able to appeal the firing.
The town formally blames other behaviors for the decision to vote to fire him. They contend he used the town discount to pay for tires for his vehicle. They also say he borrowed and failed to give back firearms owned by the town. Comments he allegedly made publicly about town officials were also cited as part of the reason the town has pursued termination.
If the appeal does not work out in his favor and he is fired, the police chief has already planned to file a wrongful termination suit. In states like Colorado and elsewhere where town officials face public scrutiny on and off duty, it can be difficult to establish the line between free speech and speech that affects one’s public persona. If someone believes they have been fired for exercising their right to free speech and pursues a wrongful termination suit, they may be able to get their job back or win compensation for lost wages.
Source: Los Angeles Times, Officials vote to fire foul-mouthed Pennsylvania police chief, No author, Sept. 20, 2013