Saturday, July 28, 2007

Connecticut state police can't muzzle troopers

By The Associated Press

Editor's note: The Associated Press reported on March 3, 2006, that the state of Connecticut had agreed to a $450,000 out-of-court settlement with Trooper Mark Lauretano of Salisbury, ending a First Amendment case that began in 1999.

HARTFORD, Conn.— A state police policy restricting troopers from talking to the news media is unconstitutional, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Dominic J. Squatrito ruled on Oct. 1 that the agency's administrative and operations manual violates a trooper's constitutional right to free speech. He forbade state police from preventing employees from speaking on matters of public concern.

"When you take an oath of office to become a state trooper, you do not give up your constitutional rights, especially the right to free speech," state police union President David LeBlanc said after the ruling. "What the impact will be down the road is that all police officers will feel more at ease to speak out as citizens."

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, whose office defended state police administrators in the case, said the decision would be reviewed "carefully and comprehensively to determine whether an appeal is appropriate."


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