The Police and Free Speech

Written by Gregory Monte.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post about a motorist’s First Amendment right to “disrespect” a cop: Can a Cop Pull You Over for Cursing? My research revealed that the following three actions are protected:

  • Giving the middle finger to a cop
  • Cursing at a cop directly
  • Cursing in your car in the presence of a cop

Although I didn’t recommend doing any of those things , the purpose of the post was to recognize that the US Constitution, thankfully, still has relevance today.  These behaviors, although clearly disrespectful, are still considered free speech.

But now I see that the Monroe County Legislature in New York is seeking to change all of that – at least in its little neck of the woods: New Legislation Will Throw People in Jail for Disrespecting Cops—Seriously.

“In a vote this week, lawmakers in the Monroe County Legislature passed a proposal in a 17-10 vote to fine and/or jail a person who annoys, alarms or threatens the personal safety of an officer. The jail sentence is up to one year and the fine is up to $5,000.”

If interested, you can read the full text of the law on page 29 of the list of proposed resolutions for the November 12th meeting.


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