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No More Policing Profanity in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvanians now have the freedom to swear without fear of retribution - at least from the Pennsylvania State Police. For years, the Pennsylvania State Police have followed a policy of issuing disorderly conduct citations when citizens have used profanity in front of them. The State Police issued 770 disorderly conduct tickets for swearing in 2008 and 2009 alone, according to attorney Mary Catherine Roper of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Roper described the lawsuit that the ACLU filed in 2010 on behalf of a woman to a reporter with Philly.com. The woman was walking with a friend when a motorcyclist nearly hit them. She yelled at the biker and swore at him, then called the police to report him. Then the story takes a turn...

Instead of sympathizing with the woman, the Pennsylvania police officer who responded to the scene of the near-miss pedestrian accident cited her for disorderly conduct, despite the fact that it is settled law that police should not cite citizens for conduct that is covered as free speech. To add insult to injury, the mother of three was fined $300 along with the traffic ticket.

After this incident, a lawsuit was filed by Roper, of the ACLU, on the woman's behalf. In early January, the Pennsylvania State Police entered into a settlement after the federal lawsuit was filed and agreed to cease the practice of issuing disorderly conduct tickets to citizens who swear in public. The State Police also agreed to train Pennsylvania officers on citizens' free speech rights as part of the settlement.

Related Story:

No more Pa. language police

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