Associate Magazine FBINAA Q2-2023

Continued from "First Amendment Audits", on page 9

Agencies need to collaborate with their legal teams and decide if any case laws (e.g., Glik v. Cunniffe and Gericke v. Begin ) surrounding First Amendment audits exist, and what legal impera tives are derived from those Supreme Court findings. Information garnered from this collaboration will prove vital when updating or writing new policies that govern an officer’s response. This exercise also helps agencies in setting expectations for how their staff should handle themselves during these encounters. Educating staff on applicable federal, state, and city laws or ordinances will not only make them better at their jobs, but also help them in distinguishing when a law has been broken while dealing with an “auditor(s).” “Auditors” tend to thoroughly edu cate themselves. Staff must be as educated if they expect to have a positive encounter. When more knowledgeable, officers are also less likely to respond emotionally when faced with these tense encounters. Law enforcement leaders must determine and communi cate their expectations as they relate to First Amendment audit response. Officers should never guess as to what their leadership expects of them when faced with a contentious situation. Staff make bad decisions when uninformed and will be facing adminis trative discipline, or worse. Agencies can avoid this by setting clear expectations. While enforcing the law, officers must work in the grey area on occasion, and this requires officers being comfortable with the expectations set forth by agency leadership. Each of these training topics include elements of emotional deci sion making; however, it is critical to remind staff of the dangers that arise from making emotional decisions. Time and time again, examples arise of situations where police officers use force unlaw fully based on an emotional decision. Properly designed train ing curriculums can arm officers with the tools and knowledge

While training helps officers make better decisions and creates more effective agencies, it also has the opposite effect should the training be designed improperly. Training time is of ten at a premium and talking about adding more can be enough to dissuade the most ambitious law enforcement leaders. However, it is incumbent upon law enforcement leaders to find the time to protect their staff, agencies, and municipalities. This is accomplished by understanding the objectives of an effective training curriculum, and the minimum training requirements needed to meet those objectives. Effective training curriculums concerning First Amendment audits should include a few topics, at a minimum. These topics include: • an in-depth look at how the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution actually reads; • any applicable case law surrounding the response of police officers to a First Amendment audit; • applicable federal, state and city laws or ordinances; • the agency’s expectations as they relate to interacting and dealing with those choosing to conduct First Amendment audits; and • emotional decision making. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads as fol lows: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a re dress of grievances.” The First Amendment protects citizens’ rights with respect to “freedom of speech;” it does not stop an officer from acting when a law or ordinance has been violated (e.g., incit ing violence, disturbing the peace, trespassing, traffic laws, etc.). Providing specific training on this topic can help officers draw lines of delineation between these two vital concepts.

continued on page 35

10 FBINAA.ORG | Q2 2023

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