BOSTON (CN) – A detective should not have lost his position over his refusal to back the police chief in a political battle, the 1st Circuit ruled.
Robert Welch held the position of detective sergeant in the Stoughton (Mass.) Police Department for five years. He got on the wrong side of Police Chief Manuel Cachopa by taking a neutral position during an election recall battle among the town’s selectmen. The recall centered on whether to renew Cachopa’s contract.
When Welch became involved in an investigation into Cachopa’s conduct, he found rubber rats and a bullet in his mailbox. Cachopa was reinstated as police chief, but Welch was not renewed as detective sergeant, so he sued for retaliation.
Judge Cudahy ruled that the district court should not have dismissed Welsh’s First Amendment claim.
“The freedom not to support a candidate or cause is integral to the … freedom of political expression that is protected by the First Amendment,” Cudahy wrote.