Posted: September 17th, 2017
Topic: Research Paper Problem Scenarios
Officer Golden, one of the Sheriff’s best officers, told an officer employed by the neighboring Hidden Valley Police Department that he thought the Saint Leo Sheriff’s Department had some bad actors. Officer Golden told this officer that he thought some members of his department were lying on affidavits in order to obtain search warrants and then taking a portion of any illegal drug seized as the result of the execution of the warrants and failing to inventory it. These statements got back to the Sheriff who immediately transferred Officer Golden to a desk job. Officer Golden had been a beat officer on the force for ten years without any disciplinary problems. On the transfer, he did not lose pay and it was not considered a demotion. However, the Sheriff wanted Officer Golden to stop talking outside the department as it was against department rules to do so. A disciplinary letter was placed in Golden’s file. Hidden Valley Police Department has obtained a copy of the disciplinary letter. Officer Golden has threatened a lawsuit. The Sheriff wants your advice on the merits of such a suit. Please give her a sound legal basis and reasoning for your recommendations. After the Sheriff became aware of Officer Golden’s statements, she initiated an investigation. She put video cameras in the evidence room but didn’t tell anyone. She called in Internal Affairs to interview everyone who had obtained search warrants in the last two years and everyone who had made an arrest with a drug charge during the same period. The Sheriff wants to know what rights the officers who are questioned have in the IA process. During the investigation, the video camera picked up Officer Silver going into the evidence room and appearing to add something to a bag of evidence that was already there. The Sheriff believes that Officer Silver was concerned that the IA investigation would show that he had kept some of the seized drugs and was attempting to put them back before he got caught. The Sheriff searched, without a warrant, Silver’s unlocked office cubicle and his desk to see if there was any evidence of criminal behavior. She didn’t find anything. Concerned, however, with what she had heard from Officer Golden and what she viewed on the video tape, the Sheriff summarily terminated Officer Silver and now Officer Silver is suing the department. Does Officer Silver have any valid claims? What are they? Does the Sheriff have the right to terminate Silver as she did? The Sheriff needs a sound legal basis for your analysis and recommendations.
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