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Springfield police officer posed nude in Playboy, made national news

By MICHAEL COOPER • Sep 29, 2017 at 9:00 PM

SPRINGFIELD (TNS) — A Springfield police officer made national headlines 35 years ago when she appeared in an issue of Hugh Hefner's Playboy featuring law enforcement officers and she was suspended from her job for more than 35 days.

The magazine's founder, Hefner, died Wednesday, Sept. 27, at the age of 91.

Barbara Schantz Buffington appeared in a nine-page pictorial in the issue called “Beauty and the Badge,” which was published in May 1982. At the time, the 25-year-old had been on the force for three years.

Buffington still resides in Springfield and is retired from the police force but couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday.

A single mother of a 7-year-old son at the time, she told the police chief at the time that she would be clothed in the photos, but later said she couldn't resist posing nude for the magazine, according to Springfield News-Sun archives. She was paid $20,000 for the pictorial.

“I’d have regretted not posing,” she said in a 1982 UPI story. “I’d have always wondered what would have happened. I'm not too old to take a chance on something different.”

She told the news organization she was read “the riot act” by the police chief about posing in the magazine.

“When he started dictating to me, something inside me said, ‘Hey! I'm not going to let him tell me what I can or can’t do with my life,’” Buffington said.

Buffington was suspended for 37 days without pay for conduct unbecoming a police officer stemming from the Playboy layout, according to press clippings.

She later appeared on “The Today Show” to talk about her suspension. The American Civil Liberties Union also spoke against her suspension, saying her conduct was protected by the First Amendment.

A federal suit seeking $6.3 million in damages was filed against Playboy and Buffington for invasion of privacy for pictures of minors who appeared with Buffington in the magazine without permission but the case was later dismissed, according to federal court records.

A police board of inquiry recommended Buffington be fired in April of 1982, but she later filed a $1 million lawsuit against the city. In June of 1982, she was permitted to return to work after agreeing to drop the lawsuit. She also issued an apology, but told the News-Sun she had done no wrong and suffered no loss of credibility as a police officer.

In 1983, a movie loosely based on Buffington's experience was produced and titled “Police Woman Centerfold.”

Two other local women have also appeared in Playboy. Nicole Hawkins, a respiratory therapist at Community Hospital, was among women photographed for “Med-Alert,” a July 1992 look at health care professionals.

Northeastern High School graduate Crista Wagner was the third local woman to pose for the magazine in 2001.

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