(CN) – A police sergeant in Omaha, Neb., did not commit flagrant misconduct when he wrote in a union newspaper that city officials were acting like “petty criminals,” the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled.
Sgt. Timothy Anderson said in a union meeting that he thought the method the police department used to calculate 911 response times was misleading.
This comment sparked an internal investigation into whether Anderson had advised officers to disregard police procedure. The investigation concluded that he had not.
The Anderson investigation inspired another sergeant, Kevin Housh, to write an article in union newspaper The Shield, also criticizing the way the city and police calculated response time.
He wrote that city officials were “a bunch of grown men and women, supposedly leaders, acting like petty criminals trying to conceal some type of crime.”
Internal Affairs then investigated Housh, who was fired for “gross disrespect and insubordination.”
Justice Wright agreed with the Commission of Industrial Relations’ (CIR) decision to overturn Housh’s firing by applying the “flagrant misconduct” standard.
“Although reasonable minds could differ as to whether Housh’s statements were outrageous and insubordinate,” Wright wrote, “given our standard of review, we conclude that the CIR’s order is supported by the facts.”
The commission ordered the city to place an article in the union newspaper indicating its support for the officers’ free-speech rights.