A trooper with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) was reprimanded and ordered to undergo counseling for posing for a picture with rapper Snoop Dogg last month.
Billy Spears was working security detail when Snoop Dogg (real name Calvin Broadus) gave the keynote speech at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin.
One of Broadus’ assistants took a picture of the rapper posing with Spears, who was wearing his DPS uniform. Spears was not working for DPS at the time, but had gained their prior approval.
The picture was posted to Broadus’ Instagram account with the caption “Me n my deputy dogg.”
But that simple snapshot landed Spears in trouble, according to his Dallas-based attorney, Ty Clevenger.
Clevenger says that Spears was reprimanded and ordered to undergo counseling after DPS Lt. Col. David Baker was made aware of the Instagram post.
Clevenger, who insists that the order is not an April Fool’s Day joke, published a counseling record written for Spears on March 24.
“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,” the counseling records reads.
Broadus has had numerous run-ins with the law during the course of his 20-plus year rapping career. Most of the charges are drug-related and weapons-related.
According to Spears’ counseling document, he told his superiors that he posed for the photo because he was asked and that he did not know who Snoop Dogg was.
Spears’ supervisors recommended that he “Use good Judgment when taking photos with anyone while in uniform” and urged him to “Be mindful of social media outlets and how such photos can negatively affect the Agency.”
The supervisors said that Spears should “refuse photos” in order to overcome the deficiency.
But Spears hired Clevenger who sent letters to the director of the DPS as well as to local prosecutors in Austin.
“Billy did not know about Snoop Dogg’s criminal history,” Clevenger wrote on his blog. “Believe it or not, some folks don’t watch TMZ or read People Magazine. And of course DPS has no policy requiring a criminal background check on everyone who requests a picture with a uniformed trooper. In fact, DPS has no policy forbidding a photograph with someone who has a criminal conviction.”
Clevenger asserted that Spears was reprimanded in retaliation for an incident in which he reported misconduct of a Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission officer following an incident last year.
Clevenger also questioned how DPS supervisors could have found the picture of his client posing with Broadus. While it is very possible that someone saw Broadus’ picture and forwarded it to DPS, Clevenger speculated that the agency could be using biometric recognition tools to scan social media sites to monitor employee behavior.
“The real question is whether DPS has expanded the use of facial recognition software beyond its search for criminal suspects, and beyond its own internal records of drivers licenses and suspects,” Clevenger wrote.
The DPS did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller’s request for comment.