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Government & Politics

Former Cleveland Battalion Chief Claims City Policies Violate Free Speech Rights

A photo of a Cleveland fire truck
CITY OF CLEVELAND PHOTOGRAPHIC BUREAU
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CITY OF CLEVELAND PHOTOGRAPHIC BUREAU
The former batallion chief says the Cleveland rule barring department employees from speaking to the media was retaliatory

A former battalion chief for Cleveland’s Fire Division is suing the city, claiming it violated his  First Amendment rights.

Sean DeCrane previously sued the city after officials claimed he had leaked information to the media that Mayor Frank Jackson’s pick for fire chief lacked qualifications. DeCrane’s attorney, Subodh Chandra, says the two city policies, now in effect, that prohibit fire department employees from speaking with the media are unconstitutional.

“This is well established law in Ohio, in federal jurisprudence, that a city cannot adopt a total ban on city workers communicating with the media, even if it’s stuff related to their jobs, because a complete and absolute ban is First Amendment suppression," Chandra said. 

Chandra says he believes that the ban was put in place in reaction to DeCrane’s alleged leak.