City of San Diego v. John Roe

Roe took steps to link the San Diego Police Department to his business which would affect the police department in an adverse way.

The court of appeals utilized National Treasury Employees Union 356 F. 3dd. 1117.  In that case employees were giving speeches or writing outside of their employment.  In ruling with the employees the court stated “Earnings from speaking or writing on a class of federal employees.  The Court held that, within the particular classification of employment, the Government had shown no justification for the outside salary limitations.  The First Amendment right of the employees sufficed to invalidate the restrictions on the outside earnings for such activities.  The Court noted that throughout history public employees who undertook to write or to speak in their spare time had made substantial contributions to literature and art, 513 U.S. at 465, 20 L. Ed. 2d 811, 88 S. Ct. 1731, and observed that none of the speech at issue "even arguably [had] any adverse impact" on the employer”

The Supreme Court ruled that the appellate court relied heavily on NTEU and was misplaced.    Roe took steps to link the San Diego Police Department to his business which would affect the police department in an adverse way.   Even though the activities were outside of work he listed himself as a speaker in the field of law enforcement.  The court acknowledged that Connick was a precedent setting case it was not applicable in this case.  Roe went far and beyond the work place.  He clearly identified himself as a police officer and used that to enhance his sales. 

The Supreme Court ruled that Roe’s speech was detrimental to the department.  It affected the operations of the department and it’s standing in the community.  The court overturned the Appellate court ruling in favor of the San Diego Police department.  Roe was terminated.

We are seeing more and more issues with the internet.  Be sure your policies are in place to cover the department.  It is not uncommon to see several officers involved in computer policy violations that they claim they weren’t aware of.  A good rule is to have officers read and sign their policy and procedure manual yearly.  Additionally, have role call training on the ten major policies in your department.   By doing so it eliminates the “I didn’t know” excuse.


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About The Author:

Randy Rider began his career with the Douglas County Sheriff office, Georgia in 1974. He received several promotions eventually to investigations. His areas of expertise are extensive having worked crimes from petty theft to murder. In 1983 he became employed with the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice as an investigator, promoted to Principal Investigator. He eventually moved into the Internal Affairs Unit as an investigator and as a supervisor.

Rider was elected President of the National Internal Affairs Investigators Association in 2005 and stepped down in 2010 having served five years. He is currently the Chaplain of the organization.

He is employed with the Public Agency Training Council one of the largest police training organizations in the country. Rider travels the country teaching officers on internal investigations of corrections facilities and first line supervisors on investigations of citizen’s complaints. He has experience is police audits.

Over the course of his career he has conducted hundreds of investigations concerning abuse, neglect, and use of force by law enforcement officers. Additionally, he has years of experience in custodial investigations, including numerous investigations involving the highly prevalent but seldom reported cases of inmate on inmate abuse. He has conducted investigations of police personnel for acts of misconduct.

A member of the IACP he worked with the organization on the document “Building Trust between the Police and the Citizens They Serve.” Currently he is an advisor on the Leading by Legacy program. He is an advisor to the International Chiefs of Police and the Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services.

Randy is a columnist for as the internal affairs author. He published the weekly NIAIA newsletter for five years. He currently publishes the riderreport a police newsletter.

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