By Ken Rossignol
THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY
UPDATE: St. Mary’s Sheriff Tim Cameron has responded to a request for information about the policy of his agency in regards to this story:
“The employee’s actions are a violation of Sheriff’s Office policy and the matter was addressed internally,” Sheriff Cameron told THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY.
LEONARDTOWN, MD. (Sept. 10, 2014) – A representative of a local Fraternal Order of Police lodge, St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Cpl. William Raddatz, posed for an endorsement photo with Republican candidate for State Senate Steve Waugh and in the photo is shown handing over a political donation to the candidate – all the while displaying prominently on his belt his official Sheriff’s badge.
A uniformed police officer as well as a detective, is prohibited by most accredited police agencies and sheriff’s departments from participating in partisan political events, according to several sources familiar with department policies.
A detective displays a badge either on the belt or sometimes on a chain around the neck or on a foldout wallet in the breast pocket of a suit coat.
The display of a badge indicates to the public at large that the officer is acting in the conduct of his official duties as a law enforcement officer.
The participation of Cpl. Raddatz as a representative of FOP Lodge #7 in Great Mills was recognized by Waugh in his campaign email blast which was entitled “Endorsed by Fellowship of Police!” which indicates that Waugh really didn’t grasp the name of the organization but presumably had no trouble depositing the check in his campaign account.
The FOP very wisely donated money to those whom they believe will be elected county commissioners and $1,000 to St. Mary’s Sheriff Tim Cameron, while unopposed — will along with the next board of commissioners – determine any pay raises for deputies.
Sheriff Cameron has been requested to comment on whether Raddatz has violated department policies and if he will be terminated or reprimanded.
Cameron routinely refuses to comment on personnel matters, but in a recent statement to THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY, he offered that he has terminated twenty-four individuals from the agency since taking office in 2006.
Waugh was the losing candidate in 2010 against Sen. Roy Dyson (D. Calvert, St. Mary’s) and won a three-way GOP race to oppose Dyson once again in 2014.
The following statement is from the website of the national Fraternal Order of Police:
Hatch Act Prohibitions
The Act does not prohibit all forms of political expression. An officer retains the right to express his or her opinion on political subjects and candidates. The Act targets officers and employees who use their status as a state or municipal employee to influence the outcome of any partisan election or proceeding when federal funding is involved. What is and isn’t allowed can be summarized.
It is permissible for officers to:
• Attend fundraisers, display yard signs or bumper stickers, and attend political rallies;
• Give a speech or keynote address at a political fundraiser, so long as the officer is not on duty and does not solicit contributions. The invitation for the speech or address may have the officer’s name, but may not solicit contributions or state the officer’s official title;
• Canvass for votes in support of or in opposition to partisan political candidates or a candidate for political party office;
• Endorse or oppose a partisan political candidate in a political advertisement, broadcast, campaign literature, or similar material, so long as the officer is not on duty and not wearing a uniform, badge or insignia…
The Fort Smith Arkansas Police Department policy on political activities of police officers:
Police officers of the Fort Smith Police Department shall not engage in the following political activities:
(a) Campaign at any time for elected political office, either on behalf of themselves or for others, when on duty, or in uniform, or when acting in an official capacity as a police officer;
(b) Campaign for elected political office, either on behalf of themselves or for others, at anytime, anywhere, or in any manner which implies endorsement by the City of Fort Smith or its Police Department of any Candidate;
(c) Solicit campaign contributions while in uniform or by identifying themselves as a police officer, or by any other manner which implies endorsement by the City of Fort Smith or its Police Department of any candidate or position;
(d) Compel or otherwise place pressure of any kind upon a subordinate to contribute to, or campaign for, any ballot issue or candidate for public office; or…
The Fort Smith Police Department matrix for violations of the policy reveals that a first offense should result in a penalty ranging anywhere from a written reprimand to the loss of eight days of paid work.
The City of Tucson Arizona posts strict rules for political activities of its police officers, including the following:
May, in any election, while off-duty, outside City facilities, and not wearing a City uniform, badge, insignia or identifying item:
• Wear or display political buttons, signs, banners, stickers, badges, etc….