Features

Blue (Chip) flu

National

Issue: "Public-school reform," July 26, 2003

Police officers who are religious believers can't refuse an assignment simply because some aspect of it violates their beliefs. That was the gist of a June ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case involved Ben Endres, a former investigator fired by the Indiana State Police in 2000. The agency dismissed the nine-year veteran officer a month after he turned down an assignment as a plain-clothes security officer aboard the Blue Chip Casino riverboat. (More than 80 state troopers and nine high-ranking officers serve on the 10 casino riverboats in the state. Most volunteer for the job. The casinos pay the $9 million annual tab for their salaries.) Mr. Endres, a member of Community Baptist Church in South Bend, told his superiors he couldn't in good conscience work at a casino. He sued for damages, reinstatement, and back pay.

The appeals court said it is unreasonable to require police to juggle assignments to make them fit all officers' beliefs. Like judges and firefighters, police can't choose which laws they will enforce or which victims they will protect, the three-judge panel said. Mr. Endres is now a patrolman with a county police department.

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Edward E. Plowman
Edward E. Plowman

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