A week of events, including seminars, panel discussions, and a film festival, will lead to the sixth annual celebration of National Whistleblower Day. This year marks the 242nd anniversary of America’s first whistleblower law, passed on July 30th, 1778, and the eighth year the US Senate has unanimously passed a resolution designating July 30th as “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.”
This year’s program will highlight whistleblower issues in the context of racial injustice and COVID-19. The National Whistleblower Day events will stream live online Thursday, July 30th, from 12:00 until 2:45 PM Eastern Standard Time. Keynote speakers include Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), Co-Chair of the House Whistleblower Protection Caucus, and retired Police Commander Lorenzo Davis, Esq., who bravely blew the whistle on police misconduct in Chicago.
Starting July 28th, event organizers will release a series of pre-recorded panels by various whistleblower specialists, including whistleblower attorneys from the qui tam law firm of Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP. These panels, included as a part of the 9th Annual Whistleblower Summit and Film Festival, are free of charge. Passes to view movies from the film festival are available for a fee.
One of the pre-recorded panel discussions provides a brief overview of how the First Amendment is used to protect officers like Davis, who break the “blue code” of silence to expose wrongdoing in their departments. The panelists discuss how the Supreme Court’s 2006 Garcetti decision drastically limited the protections available to public employees who blow the whistle when doing so pursuant to their job description. Garcetti’s practical effect is incentivizing police officers to circumvent the chain of command meant to efficiently and effectively address misconduct. The video demonstrates that returning First Amendment protection to police officers who blow the whistle internally must be a component of any comprehensive police reform initiative.