A Texas Department of Public Safety officer is being forced to attend counseling after posing for a photograph with rapper Snoop Dogg. The department says that it is against policy to pose for photos with “a public figure who has a well-known criminal background.” The photo was taken by Snoop Dogg at the South by Southwest music festival while the officer was providing security at the event.
Dallas News reports that Department of Public Safety Trooper Billy Spears was reprimanded and ordered to undergo counseling after a photo of the officer and Snoop Dogg appeared on Instagram. According to Spear’s attorney, Ty Clevenger, the officer was scheduled to work the two-week festival as a member of the security staff. As Spears was working his shift, rapper and actor Snoop Dogg approached him and asked if he could have a photo with the uniformed officer. Spears posed for the photo and didn’t think twice about possible disciplinary action from his department.
However, after Snoop Dogg posted the photo to his official Instagram account with the caption, “me n my deputy dogg,” Spears says he was called into the office of his superiors and reprimanded. The charges against Spears included taking a photo with “a public figure who has a well-known criminal background.” As a result of the photograph, the deputy will now have a permanent mark on his employment record that shows the required counseling.
“Troopers get called down to work these events all the time and sometimes people want a picture with them.”
Spears says he hired an attorney in an attempt to clear his record from any wrong-doing. Spears says he had no idea he would be counseled for simply honoring someone’s request for a photograph. However, the Texas Department of Public Safety says that officer Spears should have known better, as Snoop Dogg’s criminal history is well-known and includes charges such as drug possession and even a failed murder charge.
“While working a secondary employment job, Trooper Spears took a photo with a public figure who has a well-known criminal background including numerous drug charges. The public figure posted the photo on social media and it reflects poorly on the Agency.”
Spears told his attorney that he thought the letter of reprimand and counseling were retaliation for reporting an Alcoholic Beverage Commission officer last year for unprofessional conduct. The complaint prompted an investigation against Spears, who was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.
What do you think of the charges against the Department of Public Safety officer? Should officers refrain from taking photographs with celebrities that have questionable backgrounds, or is the reprimand letter warranted?
[Image Credit: Getty Images/ Scott Gries]