Court Sides With Georgetown Police Dept. in Free Speech Case
GEORGETOWN, Del. (AP) - A Sussex County judge has ruled in favor of the Georgetown police department in a lawsuit filed by two former officers who said they were punished for exercising their free speech rights.
Former officers Shawn Brittingham and Christopher Story claimed they were subjected to retaliation after they and other off-duty officers met privately with a town council member in 2009 to discuss police department issues.
Brittingham and Story were later charged with insubordination for violating a chain-of-command policy that required discussion of all operational issues to be directed initially to the police chief.
In a recent ruling, the judge said the officers' speech at the meeting was not constitutionally protected, and that the police department's interest in maintaining order outweighed their interests in expressing non-constitutionally protected speech.