Interesting to me, the column I saw on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's website, where Bill McClellan tells of Sgt. Gary Wiegert of the Metro Police, who has come under scrutiny by the department as of late, and apparently for his political efforts and/or connections.
Sgt. Wiegert, a former former president of the St. Louis Police Officers Association, is getting the hairy eyeball from Police Chief Sam Dotson over his lobbying efforts. It is not so much Wiegert's work with the St. Louis Tea Party, but rather his lobbying work with Show-Me Cannabis, a group that is pushing for the sale of marijuana in a similar regulatory setup as that of alcohol.
Chief Dotson issued a statement last Friday saying that lobbying for a pro-marijuana group by a veteran sergeant was “not what is expected of our officers,” later adding in a full statement “Sgt. Wiegert is not representing the Department. His comments are his own and not what is expected of our officers.”
The St. Louis Police Officers Association, through a spokesman, issued their own statement the same day that said Wiegert was not a current member of the association.
While it does not seem like there has been any punishment issued over the lobbying work, at least not according to the column (click the image to head there), the chief's remarks are worth noting. Sgt. Wiegert has a right to his opinion, and Chief Dotson has his right to voice displeasure with that opinion, but I'm not sure issuing a statement on behalf of the department was necessarily the best way to go with this.
I understand that police departments have a need for standards for their officers when they are representing the public, but what an officer is doing in their free time, especially when it is not only legal, but constitutionally guaranteed, is none of the chief or the department's business. At the end of the day, all the chief should be worried about is whether or not officers are doing their jobs, but by setting an implied standard, you are telling officers that even if it is legal, if the chief or the department doesn't like it, you could have problems.
I'd be real interested to see how the St. Louis Police Officers Association would have reacted if Sgt. Wiegert was still an active member of the union.
With marijuana gaining popularity with people and voters alike, tired of watching billions of dollars get flushed down the drain a year for a 4% success rate in the War on Drugs, it is hardly surprising that there would be active members of law enforcement that might be a little tired of it too. I'm sure they'd much rather be out patrolling and dealing with real crime than sitting armpit deep in paperwork because an ultimate frisbee team was taking their game to the next level.
Even if they are for the War on Drugs, I would sincerely hope they would not allow themselves to be told what they can or can't do with their time, and especially with something as important as participating in the political process. I'm not going to say I agree with police officers holding certain elected offices (although they passed a law to that effect here in Indiana starting this year), but at the same time, shouldn't they at least be allowed to fully avail themselves of the very same constitutional rights they are expected to protect and defend?
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