By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Employment rights permeate MPD case

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In this country, the government cannot confiscate your property or take you into custody without giving you a chance to confront your accuser and argue your case. That, of course, is the heart of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which reads in part:

“No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Those rights are protected for all of us, and the occasional abuses are outweighed by the importance of maintaining these bedrocks of personal freedoms in America. The storied history of the 14th Amendment, dating back to 1868, is interwoven among issues ranging from slavery to voting rights, from racial segregation to women’s athletics, from political freedom of speech to today’s gay marriage movement.

All well and good, you say, and rightfully so. But for law enforcement and the justice system, accommodating 14th Amendment rights is a demanding responsibility. At times, it seems that criminals have more rights than their victims, and the resulting frustration for citizens runs just as deep, if not deeper, within the justice system.

We all recognize the tensions, and can debate the pros and cons of this situation. What we forget, at times, is that these same 14th Amendment protections are extended in various ways to rights of public employment.

Legal theories supported by solid case law grant “property rights” and “liberty rights” related to public employee jobs. The government, in general, cannot demote or terminate a public employee without “due process,” a catch-all term that has been extended to include protection from public exposure. And again, there are frustrations among citizens and the government itself.

This is not, as you might have guessed, just idle contemplation of complex and little-understood areas of public employment law. Rather, it is added context to the current controversy surrounding McMinnville Police Department and its high-profile case alleging excessive force by an officer.

Since law enforcement is where daily applications of the 14th Amendment occur, it’s no surprise that rights related to public employment are taken seriously by that system. That’s something to remember while waiting for what the late Paul Harvey called “The Rest of the Story.”

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


troy prouty

I think it more a case within the justice system these days that we don't see the same rules applied. Obviously like previously stated. Government and individuals have a set of different rules to follow a lot of the time. Are you acting on behalf of government enforcement (like an officer) or like a (citizen) officer out of uniform and off duty. I bring this up, because it becomes clear that when an officer does something on the job that is questionable. There is often a price attached to it, where if a citizen does it,l there might be a price and sentence.

Some States (Washington) have even passed laws that make it more difficult to prosecute an officer that does something why on duty. (Thanks Talmedge)..... The one out of course is Federal Law.. Who usually can get bring charges toward an officer (but won't unless someone dies) like in the case in Spokane for example.. OR if it is a huge problem of police abuse, step in and set rules (Like in the case of Seattle Police). In most of those cases they are not looking at the act, but what led to the act.

On a whole this is a small community in which I personally feel the city police do a pretty good job at respecting everyone's rights. There will always be some discrepencies in what was said and possible put in reports (because that is human nature).. I have had a few more concerns with some smaller issues with the Sherriff office in some circumstances (But it appears) it might be more of people needing further training in certain areas, I don't feel the majority of issues are related to (abuse of power) intentionally.. But more of Mens Rea..... type of thing.

Last tidbit .... 4th and 5th amendment as well... wink...


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