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  • The sticker which prompted Nehls

    The sticker which prompted Nehls' controversial social media post that spawned a debate of freedom of speech. | Photo: Sheriff Troy E. Nehls

Published 18 November 2017

Sheriff Troy Nehls, a supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, was shelled for his threat to arrest the owner of a truck displaying political speech critical of Trump.

Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls, who threatened disorderly conduct charges against the owner of a truck displaying a  "F--- TRUMP" sticker, has been revealed to have been fired from a past position for “disregard” for orders issued by superiors and lying on a notarized affidavit during his job application process to his current department.

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The sheriff, a member of the Republican Party floating a possible bid for congress, was accused by free speech activists of using his position for a political agenda after the post went viral. According to long-standing federal case law, political speech has a wide latitude in its expression even if it may appear obscene by others. Citing Texas state law, Nehls claimed that this demonstration of political speech warranted a disorderly conduct charge.

Nehls posted on his official account : "I have received numerous calls regarding the offensive display on this truck as it is often seen along FM 359. If you know who owns this truck or it is yours, I would like to discuss it with you," the post read. "Our Prosecutor has informed us she would accept Disorderly Conduct charges regarding it, but I feel we could come to an agreement regarding a modification to it."

The statement was later removed from the sheriff’s Facebook page and the Fort Bend Attorney’s office indicated that it had no plans to indict the owner of the truck.

The full sticker says “F--k Trump and f--k  you for voting for him.”

Nehls had previously served as an officer with the Richmond Police Department, the county seat of Fort Bend County.

Nehls was formally terminated in 1998, according to legally obtained documents found on Keep USA Honest, a website that claims that it is “like a citizen’s intelligence agency” that collects information on public officials.  

The termination notice reads:

“Your repeated violations of the policies and procedures of this department, as well as your continuing disregard for orders issued to you by your supervisors, has resulted in this termination which is based on Richmond Police Department’s General Orders 300.08.”

Among the violations listed by the department are failure to contact a victim, several counts of improper evidence handling, evidence destruction, failure to return property, misleading superiors, improper arrest, and going to restaurants several times without notifying dispatch.

In all, the department lists 19 violations within a one year span.

Prior to this, a 1996 Officer Performance Evaluation Narrative stated that Nehls had “the potential to receive an above standard rating, if he concentrates more on police work and not who’s out to get him.”

In 1998, one month after his termination, Nehls hired Carlson & Smith attorneys to appeal his termination. The firm’s statement to Richmond City Manager Glen Gilmore stated that Nehls’ termination stemmed from “prejudice, difference of opinion, and envy with the department,” calling the termination “unduly harsh and unjustified.” Gilmore responded with an affirmation of the Richmond Police Department’s decision to boot Nehls.

Records also indicate that Nehls lied during his employment process with the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department, in which he swore in a signed and notarized affidavit that he had never been arrested before.

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Nehls was arrested by the Horicon, Wisconsin Police Department in 1988 for underage drinking at the age of 20 and obstructing an officer by lying about his age. He had admitted to this arrest in his application to the Richmond Police Department.

When prompted under the Freedom of Information Act, the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department did not provide further information on Nehls’ apparent fraud.

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