Trooper who sued Patrol over his software drops suit - for now

Patrol's praise for trooper's software turns ugly after he refuses to turn over his creation for no additional compensation.

In 2005, Wisconsin Trooper David Meredith won an award for writing a program that allows troopers to import driver history data into the system they use to produce traffic tickets. But when Meredith claimed ownership of the software, hatching a plan to sell it to other law enforcement agencies, feelings changed at the State Patrol.

When police officials demanded his source code he refused. They retaliated by giving him a 10-day unpaid suspension. He responded by suing State Patrol Superintendent David L. Collins and Collins' boss, Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi. Meredith argued that he owned the software because he developed it on his own time, despite management's claim that he worked on it while on the clock.

Now, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, the trooper is dropping his suit. But the State Patrol hasn't heard the last from Trooper Meredith.

"His reasons (for dropping the suit) were twofold: one, to avoid risk of disciplinary action by the State Patrol and, two, to possibly pursue the same claims in federal court," said Meredith's attorney, Timothy Feeley

Under an agreement with the state, Meredith's suit would be dismissed without prejudice, meaning he could refile it in state or federal court. He has turned over the source code and has been banned from working on the software.

"I think his talent, knowledge and ability is a greater asset to the patrol than they're currently admitting to," said Glen Jones, president of the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association, the union that represents troopers. "A lot of people do their jobs because it's their job. Dave does it because it's his passion. To prevent him from further participating in the program is shortsighted."

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