The National Police Association Supports the Public Safety Free Speech Act

The National Police Association Supports the Public Safety Free Speech Act

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Indianapolis – March 27, 2024. The Public Safety Free Speech Act (H.R. 7398) protects the First Amendment rights of police officers and other first responders, including firefighters and emergency medical responders, while off-duty. This bipartisan bill, which was introduced in February by Rep. Jefferson Van Drew (NJ-2) currently has seven co-sponsors and has been referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. The bill’s text can be found here.

H.R. 7398 maintains that police officers and other first responders can’t be terminated or disciplined for expressing personal beliefs while off-duty. This encompasses opinions about employment, including work conditions, policies, procedures, pay, and benefits. It also protects the off-duty expression of political and religious beliefs, whether they apply to work or personal life. This bill does not protect speech that is defamatory, promotes or suggests violence, releases confidential information, or supports work stoppages.

A first responder who is terminated or disciplined for expressing protected speech would be able to file a legal suit against the employer. A complainant who wins a positive judgment would be eligible to collect compensatory damages, punitive damages, and reimbursement of attorney fees.

This bill was crafted in response to the rise in disciplinary actions taken against first responders who exercise their First Amendment rights while on their own time. These workers have been targeted for speaking publicly on a range of issues, from vaccine mandates imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic, to political policies that impact their job performance. The speed and ease with which information is now transmitted has made these workers more vulnerable to retribution and harassment.

The First Amendment is a right guaranteed to all Americans, regardless of the work they do, and it transcends departmental politics, party politics, and group thought. Provided first responders express personal beliefs during their own time and within the limits of law, they should be able to speak freely.

“Police officers shouldn’t have to choose between expressing their First Amendment rights and losing their livelihoods,” said Paula Fitzsimmons, Legislative Director, National Police Association. “In a nation where freedom of expression is a bedrock, no Americans, including police officers and other first responders, should have to live in fear of retribution for offering opinions that others may dislike,” Fitzsimmons added.

The Public Safety Free Speech Act is a reasonable bill that protects the constitutional rights of the men and women who protect our communities. We thank Rep. Jefferson Van Drew for crafting this thoughtful bill and encourage Congress to pass it.

About The National Police Association: The National Police Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit Educational/Advocacy organization. For additional information visit