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Los Angeles Partner Mildred K. O'Linn Quoted in Police One dot com article About Cops and Free Speech

In an article published on Police One dot com, which discusses a police chief's forced early retirement due to a Facebook posting which offended civil rights groups, the publication's editor in chief, Doug Wyllie, discusses the American ideal of free speech and how a public servant must balance those rights against the duty to portray values consistent with a governmental entity's policies. In the case of this chief, contractual stipulations obligated him not to represent the city in a way the town counsel considered unfavorable.

Public statements via social media can go beyond simply creating an unfavorable impression of a governmental entity to creating civil liability in situations where an officer who is involved in a shooting makes any comments prior to that which suggest predetermination.

 “If you indicate a predetermined course of action — to use deadly force for example — ‘I’m going to take some action,’ and you then you take that action, you’ve presented yourself as predisposed to take that action without consideration of whether that action would be objectively reasonable," Ms. O'Linn is quoted as stating.

“However, there’s a lot of information missing in that equation: the immediate threat, time available to make decisions, speed and distance, the crimes committed, and other factors including officer/subject factors such as the number of officers and subjects; age, size and relative strength of the subject; specialized knowledge or skill of subject; injury or exhaustion and everything else that goes into the totality of the circumstances of an incident.”

To read the complete article, click here.

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