A federal judge ruled yesterday that an NYPD officer who spoke out against a system of quotas in his precinct is not protected by the First Amendment.

Officer Craig Matthews, a 16-year veteran of the department, said he was subjected to harassment, intimidation, and retributive assignments after he complained about the color-coded quota system that he claimed existed in the Bronx's 42nd Precinct, and sued the city and the NYPD.

Federal Judge Paul Engelmayer dismissed Matthews's suit, noting that his complaints were not protected by the First Amendment because Matthews "spoke as an NYPD employee, not a citizen."

Yet Judge Engelmayer's opinion stated that Matthews' speech "had undeniable value to the public." From the Times' report:

“There is a paramount public interest in shining a light on a policy” that allegedly “causes police officers to violate citizens’ rights not to be subject to unlawful stops and arrests,” the ruling said, adding, “The quota system that Officer Matthews protested would, in fact, today violate New York State law.”

So how is a police officer possessing information with "undeniable value to the public" and privy only to police officers, supposed to provide it to the public without being punished? Email us. Anonymity is assured.

Officer Matthews also happens to be one of the officers who discharged his weapon at the Empire State Building shooter last summer.

Last year a federal appellate court overruled another federal judge's decision to dismiss the suit, and sent Matthews' case back to Judge Engelmayer to determine whether the officer was speaking as a police officer or as a public citizen.

Matthews's attorney, NYCLU legal director Chris Dunn, said he'd appeal the ruling. “This decision is wrong and it is dangerous because it will eliminate the constitutional protections of police officers who disclose misconduct inside the Police Department. We are confident the appeals courts will reverse this decision.”