Frequently all of us in a free democracy debate what “rights” we as individuals have and whether the public good outweighs the private right. In Schenck v united States ( see http://law.jrank.org/pages/12613/Schenck-v-United-States.html) Justice Holmes clearly defined this balance when writting about the 1st Amendment and unprotected Freedom of Speech, when he stated the right of free speech is not absolute, as one cannot yell ” fire” in a crowded theater. See :http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/analysis.aspx?id=20074 .
In this case an Officer who served in the Bellevue Department was reported to be unfit by his fellow Officers during a training exercise . See http://www.omaha.com/index.php?u_page=2798&u_sid=10588900 Apparently he was suppose to maintain a “high” level of physical, mental and emotional conditioning. However, citing the Departmental written guidelines he was only required to be in “fair” levels of physical, mental and emotional conditioning. Apparently after twenty five years of service the officer had let his body fall apart. The court accepted the “fair” standard as opposed to the “high” standard and I imagine the attorney’s had a field day as both terms have subjective meaning opening the door to a colloquy on said words.
This is another example of the late great Democrat Senator from New York Patrick Moynihan described as defining deviancy downward. ( See http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/formans/DefiningDeviancy.htm) We know longer legally see an obese person as physically incapable of performing strenuous activity,incapable of performing the physical skill set required of a police officer ( run quickly, dexterity,climb scares, run over or jump over fixed objects ( e.g. fence wall ) strength ( fight overcome a violent criminal, lift remove a person from a car accident).
Here the court rules Police Officer’s need only perform at a “fair ” level. As such the court permits acceptable levels of police service to deteriorate. ( Think merit pay for teachers) As such the public is placed at a risk, as the officer might not be able to help you and do so at your time of urgency, when you need someone who can move quickly with the aforementioned skill set. ( Think reasonable high physical skills to remove a person from a car or home on fire)
In doing so the court as here validates a higher ” private ” right” as opposed to ruling that tax payers have a right for officers to maintain “high” standards”. This is a classic example of expanding “private” rights outweighing” public rights. Senator Moynihan would not be surprised as we no longer have parasictic status to deviant behavior. We have ” social correctness and understanding. Who loses, we all do stereotypical ” dun kin donuts cops ” have a right to consume unhealthy diets. Teachers, need only perform at ” fair levels” think low math scores. Sad and scary facts that are eroding the American template of excellence.