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Beeler v. Behan

Decided: September 8, 1983.

CHARLES W. BEELER
v.
CORNELIUS J. BEHAN, CHIEF OF POLICE OF BALTIMORE COUNTY ET. AL



Appeal from the Circuit Court for Baltimore County; Hormes, J.

Gilbert, C. J., and Morton and*fn* Mason, JJ. Mason, J., delivered the opinion of the Court.

Mason

A disciplinary Hearing Board of the Baltimore County Police Department found Officer Charles W. Beeler guilty of violating the following rules and regulations of the Baltimore County Police Department:

"Rule 1 -- Conduct

Any breach of the peace, neglect of duty, misconduct or any conduct on the part of any members of

the Department, either within or without Baltimore County, which tends to undermine the good order, efficiency, or discipline of the Department, or which reflects discredit upon the Department or any member thereof, or which is prejudicial to the efficiency and discipline of the Department, even though these offenses may not be specifically enumerated or laid down, shall be considered conduct unbecoming a member of the Police Department of Baltimore County, and subject to disciplinary action by the Police Chief.

Section 11. No member of the Department shall publicly criticize or ridicule the official action of any member of the Department, public official or judge."

The Hearing Board recommended the following penalty:

(1) Loss of two (2) days leave;

(2) Work ten (10) hours of extra duty without pay;

(3) Retraining.

The Baltimore County Police Chief concurred in the findings and recommendations of the Board, and the Circuit Court for Baltimore County affirmed the decision of the Baltimore County Police Department. On appeal, appellant argues, in essence, that the rules and regulations for which he was found guilty of violating are unconstitutionally vague and over-broad, and that the rules, as applied to him, unconstitutionally restricted his First Amendment right of free speech.

The charges against Beeler stem from the following facts: At approximately 1 A.M. on 9 April 1978, the Baltimore County Police responded to a report of overcrowded conditions at Mimi Jr.'s, a local county nightclub. Upon their arrival, the police proceeded to close down the club. As the crowd was leaving the premises, Beeler, who was off duty, approached Sergeant ...


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