"When he's working, Epping Police Officer Bradley Jardis is just like any other cop. He's patrolling the streets to catch people with drugs because that's what he's supposed to do. But when he's off the clock, this 28-year-old officer is speaking publicly about why he believes existing drug policies have failed and why it's time for lawmakers to legalize drugs. It's an unusual position to take for a police officer charged with enforcing laws, but Jardis insists that prohibiting drugs leaves the dealers in control, creating a dangerous black market that breeds crime and gives kids easy access."Following the article, it appears that a series of events took place which culminated in Bradley receiving a six day unpaid suspension. He has appealed this suspension and demanded a public hearing on the issue before the Epping Board of Selectmen. We're not sure of all the details yet, but "Assawyer" on the freekeene.com web site wrote:
"Brad received the suspension for how he interacted with his sergeant in which he stated he wouldn't follow an illegal order forbidding him to speak to the media after Brad was removed from a case by the sergeant; and for sending an e-mail to his fellow union members in the department describing malfeasance involving their union president and the Lieutenant who was in charge of investigating/disciplining Brad on the illegal order issue."As previously explained in Part Two of a three part series on the LEAP blog about police officers and free speech, New Hampshire has strong free speech legislation designed to protect public employees. One hopes this will ultimately shield Jardis from disciplinary action by his employer.
You can get more background information and follow further developments on this multi-page freekeene.com thread, where Bradley himself writes:
"I have a huge support network. I am a very lucky person and I am thankful for how fortunate I am. I believe in the truth and honesty and I believe this to be a matter of public concern. I think as a law enforcement officer I am in the best vantage point to speak publicly on what I identify as something that makes our communities far less safe... IE: drug prohibition. The public should know how an employee who tries to make logical arguments about changing public policy is treated."You can also watch this five minute video by NH web journalist Dave Ridley (FYI there are short ads at the beginning and end of the segment):
On the plus side, it looks like Jardis may someday generate new case law that will protect free speech for all police officers in New Hampshire. The downside is that this is probably going to be a long, messy, expensive and painful process for him. Bradley has great legal representation but it is important for the broader drug policy reform community to show its support as well. These events continue a trend started with the firing of Sgt. Jonathan Wender in 2005 from the Mountlake Terrace police department in Washington state. Wender - a public member of LEAP at the time - sued and eventually won a settlement of $812,500.
One has to wonder: how many serving officers have been deterred from joining LEAP over concerns about similar problems occurring within their own organizations?
Update: The Union Leader just published their story. It provides more details about the events that led to the suspension.