- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper is reportedly being forced to undergo counseling after he posed for a photo with Snoop Dogg while working at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin.

Trooper Billy Spears, of Gilmer, was in uniform in a secured area at the festival when Snoop Dogg, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, stopped and asked if he could get a quick photo with him, The Dallas Morning News reported.

The rapper’s publicist reportedly took the picture and Mr. Broadus then posted it on Instagram, along with the line, “Me n my deputy dogg.”

DPS officials saw the posting and cited Trooper Spears for posing with a known criminal and reflecting poorly on the agency, The Morning News reported.

Mr. Broadus has faced numerous charges related to drugs and weapons possession. In 1996, he and his bodyguard were acquitted of murder charges after his bodyguard shot and killed a rival gang member, The Morning News reported.

Trooper Spears’ attorney, Ty Clevenger, said his client had no knowledge of Mr. Broadus’ criminal past.

“Billy did not know about Snoop Dogg’s criminal history,” Mr. 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.”

Because the action taken against Trooper Spears called for “counseling” and was not a formal disciplinary action, the trooper has no means of appeal, even though it will become part of his personnel record, The Morning News reported.

During counseling, Trooper Spears was instructed to say “no” when people ask to have their picture taken with him.

Mr. Clevenger said he believes the DPS is retaliating against Trooper Spears for reporting a Alcoholic Beverage Commission officer last year for unprofessional conduct. The complaint prompted an investigation against Mr. Spears, who was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing, The Morning News reported.

DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said they don’t typically discuss or release specifics of personnel issues unless they result in disciplinary action, The Morning News reported.

“Supervisors counsel and coach employees on a regular basis, and these efforts do not constitute formal discipline by the department,” Mr. Vinger said.

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