Department of Public Safety Officer Billy Spears got more than he bargained for when he posed for a picture with rap superstar Snoop Dogg at the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas, a few weeks ago.
Snoop was at the music festival to give the keynote speech when he came into contact with the trooper backstage. Trooper Spears was in full uniform when Snoop decided to pause and snap a photo with the officer. In the picture, Snoop is seen leaning very casually with one arm on officer Spears’ shoulder. According to Spears’ lawyer, Ty Clevenger, the photo was taken by Snoop’s publicist.
After taking the picture, Snoop posted it to his Instagram account, and that’s when the trouble started for the Texas trooper. Spears was not identified in the picture, but it was captioned by Snoop, saying, “Me n my deputy dogg.”
It didn’t take long for someone to recognize Spears, and somehow word got back to his superiors at the Department of Public Safety. According to the department rules, officers are not allowed to take photographs with anyone who has a criminal record. So regardless of the fact that Snoop Dogg is famous, the fact that he has a criminal record for past drug convictions stirred up a problem for Spears.
Spears’ attorney said, “Troopers get called down to work these events all the time and sometimes people want a picture with them.”
Clevenger posted on his blog on April 1 and stated that he was not pulling an April Fools’ prank when he reported that Spears was ordered to undergo counseling because of the photo. He is now fighting a blot in his personnel file due to the incident.
According to USA Today, Cleavenger says that Spears’ record includes the following.
“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.”
Considering Spears was never identified in the picture, and neither was the agency he worked for, how exactly did his bosses find out about the picture with Snoop? Spears’ attorney has a theory about that, and he was not shy about sharing it on his blog.
“Billy was informed by his sergeant that DPS monitors social media for photographs of DPS personnel. The photo contains no reference to Billy or DPS, and even Billy did not know that it had been posted to Instagram, so this begs the question of whether DPS is trolling social media with its facial recognition software.”
Trooper Spears was not the only officer Snoop was pictured with on his Instagram account that weekend. However, he is the only one who has been reprimanded for it.
[Photo courtesy of Snoop Dogg/Instagram]