ACLU Defends Free Speech Rights of Police Officer

Affiliate: ACLU of Hawaii
August 30, 2000 12:00 am

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HONOLULU – The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai’i has sent a letter to county attorneys of the Island of Hawai’i criticizing the County’s policy of prohibiting a police officer from filing a complaint before its Police Commission.

“”Government cannot and should not create artificial and unrealistic barriers to a citizen’s rights to petition his government”” said ACLU of Hawai’i Legal Director Brent White. “”We are urging the county to abandon this position. Otherwise, the matter will have to be resolved in the courts.””

Officer Tanny Cazimero had filed a complaint with the Hawai’i County Police Commission concerning the conduct of the County’s Police Chief and others. Commission rules state that all members of the public can file a complaint. However, the Commission was advised to reject Cazimero’s complaint because he is a police officer and thus, according to county attorneys, not a member of the public.

“”Officer Cazimero did not forfeit his rights as a citizen when he became a police officer,”” said ACLU cooperating attorney Edward Kemper. “”The Commission’s policy and reasoning violates the First Amendment. The courts have long held that all citizens have a right to petition the government concerning their grievances.””

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