Towson, MD – A Towson University police officer an Orthodox Jew has been suspended from his job, in the holiest time of year for Jews — the week between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
David Brown became a police officer 10 years ago. Brown said he is committed to public service and has every intention of keeping his job.
“It’s kind of like that small town police department where everybody gets to know you and you get to know everybody else,” Brown said. But that friendly atmosphere became polarized when he made a request. “All I want is to have the Sabbas off so I can spend time with my family,” he said. “So I’m not violating my religious beliefs.”
Brown became an Orthodox Jew in 2000. He said his new religion didn’t pose any problems at first, but two years after converting he asked the police department to change his schedule so that he could observe the Sabbas, requesting time off from sundown Friday through sundown Saturday. He said the university’s response surprised him, especially since it claims to be committed to diversity.
“The original response was no,” Brown said. “They couldn’t do it.” “I think they are trying to make me quit,” he said.
Brown’s lawyer said the department has conducted six internal investigations and charged Brown with neglect of duty, insubordination, being absent without leave and violating his oath of office.
Now, they suspended him with pay pending termination for failing to report for duty when scheduled to work Friday evenings.
Brown filed a complaint, saying he had proof the department broke its own policy claiming “another officer requested a scheduling accommodation for non-religious purposes, which was granted.”