Sergeant taking SLPD to court over free speech issue

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by Lauren Trager / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on March 12, 2013 at 9:47 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 13 at 4:17 PM

(KMOV.com) -- A St. Louis Police Sergeant plans to take his bosses to court, claiming the department has tried to silent the officer's rights to free speech.

The attorney for Sergeant Gary Wiegert said the officer has been told he cannot lobby for a group pushing for losser penalties on minor marijuana crimes.

Wiegert, a 30-year veteran of the department, has lobbied at the Capitol on other previous issues. But he was recently hired by the group "Sho-Me Cannabis" which argues officers on the streets should give lesser drug offenders tickets instead of hauling them to jail.

Tuesday, Wiegert's attorney, Albert Watkins, showed News 4 the documention signed by Wiegert's superiors back in February allowing the officer to lobby as a side-job.

But recently, Watkins said those same commanders reversed course after they found out what Sergeant Wiegert would be lobbying. Watkins said they told the Wiegert he hadn't properly filled out the forms.

This, Watkins said, is just a cover-up for the bigger issue.

This is nothing more than a veiled attempt to justify the complete and abhorrent violation of his rights," said Watkins.
 
The St. Louis Chief of Police Sam Dotson said the Sergeant's comments as a lobbyist are not what is expected of officers.

But he wouldn't comment any further, because he said it is a personnel matter.

Watkins said they'll ask a judge to decide on the matter Wednesday.

 

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