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Jessie Lunderby: Model But Not Model Officer?

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on June 22, 2010 1:41 PM

Even correctional officers need to get out and have a little fun every once in a while. But the type of fun Officer Jessie Lunderby had is not sitting well with her superiors at the Washington County Sheriff's Department in Arkansas. It seems in her spare time Officer Lunderby decided to pose, sans uniform, for the Playboy website. The sheriff's office has suspended the Playboy model/correctional officer with pay while it investigates whether or not she violated department policy by posing for the provocative site.

According to the Associated Press, Jessie Lunderby, model and jailer, is the subject of an internal investigation. The policies that may be found to prohibit off-duty activities such as nude modeling include "conduct unbecoming of an officer or employee of the department" or the requirement that officers receive permission for off-duty work. 

Major Rick Hoyt of the Washington County sheriff's office tells the AP that an additional policy forbids working in specific types of jobs, "and one of those has to do with sexual conduct," Hoyt said. If the investigation concludes Lunderby violated any of these policies, punishment could range from a mere reprimand to dismissal.

It is not unusual for terms of employment to require that employees circumscribe their behavior in certain ways. While the employment terms prohibiting "sexual conduct" or "conduct unbecoming an officer" may sound like a variation on the morals clause often still found in actor's contracts or contracts for those representing a product, it may have more to do with maintaining public trust in public employees. Also, it is reasonable to foresee that the inmates of the jail where Lunderby works could be a mite harder to control if they recognize their guard in and out of uniform.

However, it may not be easy for the department to claim a breach of an employment contract or even that Lunderby violated the policy that she get permission before accepting off-duty employment. According to CBS News, Lunderby claims the department "knew about" the shoot before it happened. Lunderby says she does not have any regrets. "I'm happy with what I did," she told the AP.

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