Table of Contents
Law enforcement officers have a fundamental role in ensuring that they safeguard the lives and properties of the members of the community. Moreover, the officer should not only respect the individuals’ constitutional rights to justice, liberty and equality but ensure that the law-abiding citizens have peace and live in tranquility as they pursue their life duties. Besides, officers are supposed to keep their private life untarnished to serve as a good example to the community. The officers should behave in such a way that they do not discredit themselves or the agency that they serve. While self-restraint and mindfulness are required for police officers, they are eligible for the right to express themselves as well as the freedom to live their private lives as they chose, provided they respect other people’s rights. They should also value integrity and avoid misusing public resources including office equipment for their personal affairs. Exemplary obedient to the laws as well as the regulations of the department is required. While officers working in the Sheriff office are not required to act officiously or allow personal feelings, political beliefs, prejudices, aspirations, friendships or animosities to influence their decisions or their capacity to carry out their duties, they are free to express their views. Their right to freedom of expression is guaranteed by the First Amendments of the constitution of the United States. Correspondingly, various Supreme Court rulings and the Fourth Amendment offer guidance on how issues that affect police and other public servants should be handled. This study seeks to evaluate Narcissus conduct and find out whether he should be detained, whether he has rights and whether Sheriff had the right to search his computer. Moreover, the research endeavor to evaluate the extent to which the Sheriff should restrict the use of social media by his staff.
Summary of Facts
Officer Narcissus openly expresses his political opinion and other personal feelings regarding Mayor of Saint Leo. Are the Narcissus’ political comments and opinions regarding the Mayor necessary or he should avoid them at all cost? Similarly, his gripes about his salary hours as well as his sexual conquests are personal issues. He also posts controversial images in his social media which in some way communicate his views on sexual issues. Should personal matters be known to the members of the public and the colleagues or he should reserve them? Are there restrictions regarding Narcissus sexual conquest or his seductive images in social media?
Narcissus used office computers to carry out personal activities. Are there specific guidelines that stipulate how office equipment including computers, hardware or software systems should be utilized? Should officers expect to have privacy over emails, web- browsing history, information of any attachment transmitted or accessed through the office equipment. Narcissus access to pornographic sites or individual social media sites using office equipment including computers. Similarly, he used office computers to purchase hunting equipment and sex toys. Should Narcissus use such equipment to buy hunting equipment, sex toys or watch pornography?
Issue Presented: Various legal issues arise from Officer Narcissus’s case. For instance, the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States prohibits arbitrary searches and seizures. Accordingly, Narcissus may raise the issue because the Fourth Amendment requires that for any searches and seizures to be done there has to be the warrant that is judicially sanctioned and supported by affirmation or oath. On the other hand, Sheriff may argue that Narcissus negated specific guidelines that stipulate how office equipment including computers, hardware or software systems should be utilized appropriately (United States Department of Justice, 2016). Accordingly, Narcissus should not expect to have privacy over office equipment, emails, web- browsing history, information of any attachment transmitted or accessed through the office equipment.
Arguments presented by Each Side: Narcissus may argue that Sheriff had no rights to search is the computer to obtain the information that he obtained because it was against the Fourth Amendments of the constitution of the United States. The reason is that sheriff did not have judicially sanctioned warrant by the court of law to search. Searching the computers and following up to establish what the officer was doing with the computer breached the law and thus any evidence obtained cannot be admissible in the court of law.
Instead, the Sheriff would argue that computers and other facilities in the office belonged to the government and that they were not private properties that could be used to buy sex toys, watch pornography, surf internet or run Facebook and other social media accounts (United States Department of Justice, 2016). Accordingly, the sheriff had the permission to search and obtain evidence that he can use to prosecute Narcissus, warn him or file such evidence for future reference.
If Sheriff had no rights, the exclusionary rule might apply to enforce the Fourth Amendment. According to this rule, the evidence obtained from an illegally conducted search and seizure, cannot be admissible in the court of law. This rule was established in the case of Weeks v. the United States and affirmed by Mapp v. Ohio. Accordingly, the evidence obtained during the search or that which is obtained later from the illegal search and seizure is inadmissible. In Weeks v. the United States, the Supreme Court unanimously concluded that any search without the judicial warrant is illegal. Although Weeks, the defendant in the case, had violated the criminal code by using company mail to transport lottery tickets, he was acquitted because police had searched his house and obtained reliable evidence without a warrant. If Narcissus is to be arraigned in court, he would argue that the evidence provided should be excluded since it is inadmissible. Narcissus may refer to the case of Katz v. the United States. In this case, an FBI officer recorded Katz’s phone call without warrant or consent from the owner and used the recorded call as evidence in the court. The court felt that recording such a call was the intrusion into privacy without the warrant and thus the recorded evidence was not admissible.
Alternatively, Sheriff would argue that employer is free to search employee’s workplace including computers, desks and other office equipment because such items belong to the employer (Reuters, 2018). The workspace officially belongs to the employer, and thus the employee should conduct himself responsibly. Correspondingly, in another case, O’Connor v. Ortega, a hospital administrator searched and apprehended personal items from the files and the desk of a physician in the hospital, who was suspended for indecency in the workplace. The search and seizure were allowed because the desks and the files belonged to the hospital. Consequently, Narcissus should not expect any privacy in the office.
Besides, since networking equipment and the computers characteristically belong to the government department of security, the Sheriff is entitled to monitor how such equipment and computers are being used (United States Department of Justice, 2016). The search includes accessing the files that have been saved to the computer as well as following up the officers’ actions when he is using the computer to surf the internet. In the case of New Jersey v. T. L. O, school administrators were given the ability to search if they reasonably believe that the student had committed an infraction. The outcome of this case provided the school administrators the ability to search when they reasonably believed that a student had infringed the rules or the law. Accordingly, the search was legal.
Considering all the arguments that have been made, Narcissus the Sheriff should detain the officer and question him all the accounts raised against him. The reason is that the officer errored when he used office equipment to buy sex toys, run accounts on social media sites, watch child pornography and surf internet. The Sheriff has the right to search the computers, seize any evidence and document such evidence for future reference because of the office equipment and other facilities belonging to the government.
However, Narcissus should be comprehensively informed of his misdemeanors and then be allowed to express himself so that he can give his views on all these issues. The Sherriff has no right to interfere with his freedom to interfere with how Narcissus runs his social media account or the sites that he visits because he will be interfering with his rights and freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment. Because the Sherriff wants to avoid litigation, she should not accuse him in court, though the evidence is admissible, but should seek other ways of rehabilitating the officer. Such ways include sending them to a psychologist, therapist or counselor.
The reason for these recommendations is that the Narcissus has no rights to use office equipment for personal affairs. Although the outcome of the Supreme Court case of Katz v. the United States, and Weeks v. the United States, demonstrate that the evidence obtained from the officer must be inadmissible, there are other views regarding the issue. The ruling from the case of O’Connor v. Ortega and New Jersey v. T. L. O gives the Sherriff the right to search Narcissus’ computer and seize the evidence because the workspace officially belongs to the employer and thus only official matters should be conducted there (Reuters, 2018). Conversely, an attempt to monitor the way he uses his accounts on social media and other sites violate his rights of speech yet the First Amendment has guaranteed it to the constitution of the United States. Because the Sherriff desire to avoid litigation as much as possible, he should pursue other means of resolving the conflict as suggested in the recommendation.
Various Saint Leo core values are in line with the recommendations given. They include responsibility and stewardship (Saint Leo University, 2018). While Narcissus has the rights to exercise his freedom of expression, they are not supposed to misuse office equipment for their activities. Besides, the Sheriff should be an honest steward who must safeguard office equipment and ensure that they are used for the right purpose. Similarly, she should embrace rehabilitation instead of punishment or go for expensive litigations.
Articulating and declaring political and other personal feelings regarding Mayor of Saint Leo or other individuals raises legal issues. Similarly, his gripes about his salary, hours as well as his sexual conquests are personal matters which may raise legal issues if pursued in the court of law. The reasons that, while individuals should not voice their political stands or opinions in their working place, which may be unethical, their freedom of expression is guaranteed by the constitution. Consequently, the government may be the employer but it is usually subjected to constitutional constraints that hinder it from interference with rights of its employees including law enforcement officers.
Arguments Presented by Each Side: Regarding freedom of speech, Narcissus may argue that Sheriff does not have rights to limit freedom of speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the constitution of the United States. The First Amendments guarantee not only freedom of speech but freedom to petition for a governmental reimbursement for specific grievances. Narcissus may argue that he is free to express his views regarding salary hours as well as his sexual conquests. According to Volokh (2014), he may also argue that he is free to express his political views against Mayor of Saint Leo because he may know something about him that the general public may not know.
In contrast, the Sheriff may argue that expressing personal opinions in a public office is unnecessary and may constitute the breach of the code of conduct for public employees because public servants are not supposed to be partisan in during their service. Moreover, government as the employer must have authority over the speech of a government employee than it would have over a citizen speech (Volokh, 2014). Besides, expressing his prowess in sexual conquest and his view on salary hours may lead to conflicts, ethical issues and lack of objectivity in his service.
On the issue of freedom of speech, the constitution has the profound commitment to the freedom of speech for all citizens including public servants. Narcissus may argue that he is free to robustly and uninhibitedly criticize Mayor of Saint Leo on issues that he may not have accomplished. While the government, through its employee may need to restrict freedom of speech to its employee to the individual level, to be seen as neutral on issues, Narcissus may reasonably argue that it is not only illegal but unethical. Narcissus may contend that the real reason for such an action driven by his differences between him and the supervisors, coworkers or other parties. These arguments provide a suitable platform to argue that their rights of speech as provided in the First Amendment have been curtailed. The action constitutes a potential lawsuit against the government which has enormous consequences after that.
Refereeing to the Supreme Court case of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, Narcissus could argue that he is free to criticize the Mayor unless the Mayor proof that he has done substantial work to the community. Correspondingly, the Mayor must proof that Narcissus acted in disregard of falsity or truth. In New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, the actual standards set by the ruling requires that the petitioner in a libel or defamation case to prove that the accused of the statement in question was aware and that he acted disregard of falsity or truth. The burden of proof lays on the complainant and thus it is challenging difficulty to prove the accused was aware that the statement was false. Accordingly, an attempt to prove that the defendant knew can rarely prevail.
A sheriff may argue that the government employee must be more responsible in their critique to other or any speech that they make. The reason is that the government has authority over the content of their speech. The Supreme Court case of Waters v. Churchill, which was argued in 1994 sought to demonstrate that employer has the right to curtail freedom of expression if it is disruptive to the operations (Volokh, 2014). In the case, a nurse in a public hospital had criticized the supervisor on issues regarding staffing. The hospital management, through reasonable argument, demonstrated that the nurse’s critique was disruptive to the operation. The Supreme Court vacated the decision by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and ruling in favor of the supervisor.
While the outcome of the case may discourage whistleblowers, it demonstrates that the employer may have authority over the content of the employee’s speech, mainly if such speech may be disruptive to the operation of the government department. Accordingly, Sheriff may contend that he has authority over the Narcissus speech that sought to criticize the Mayor or his expression of his prowess in sexual conquest and salary hours (Volokh, 2014). Correspondingly, every institution has stipulated code of conducts that employees must adhere to and thus Narcissus errored by going beyond the scope.
Narcissus should not be tried for alleged offenses, but instead he should be detained, questioned and then recommended to visit a therapist or a counselor. The reason is that he has the freedom to express himself and give his views regarding the Mayor or other individuals who hold the constitution guarantees public responsibility. Equally, he is free to voice his sexual conquest or salary hours to whoever he may want as long as their statement does not interfere with the rights of others.
While voicing his political opinion and other personal feelings regarding Mayor of Saint Leo or other individuals may constitute a libel and partisan in his service; he has the right under the First Amendments of the constitution to say what he feels is right. Similarly, Narcissus has right to talk about the salary hours and sexual conquest at his will provided he does not interfere with other people’s rights. The outcome of the Supreme Court case of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, offer Narcissus the right to criticize the Mayor unless the Mayor prove that the Narcissus was aware that the statements that he made were false and that he acted in disregard of falsity or truth. Although the Supreme Court case of Waters v. Churchill found that the employer may have authority over employee’s speech, Narcissus may argue that he acted for the good of the community and that he saw what was hidden from the community.
Various Saint Leo core values are in line with the recommendation given. They include integrity and respect (Saint Leo University, 2018). Narcissus had the right to express his views regarding the conduct and the reasons why the Mayor should not be elected. This assertion confirms his quest for integrity and public welfare. Correspondingly, the Sherriff is supposed to act in a way that they respect the rights of his staff irrespective of the mistakes. The reason is that, while Narcissus may have committed many misdemeanors he had rights and freedom of speech as enshrined in the First Amendments of the constitutions of the United States.
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- Saint Leo University. (2018). Student Affairs Division. Retrieved from http://www.saintleo.edu/resources/student-affairs-division.aspx
- United States Department of Justice. (2016). Misuse of Position and Government Resources. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/jmd/misuse-position-and-government-resources
- Volokh, E. (2014, June 19). “Washington Post.” Narrow (but unanimous) Supreme Court decision supporting government employee speech rights. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/06/19/narrow-but-unanimous-supreme-court-decision-supporting-government-employee-speech-rights/?utm_term=.fdc07e2c683c