On Tuesday, a police officer in Miami was seen at a polling site armed, in full uniform, and wearing a red, white, and blue face mask emblazoned with the words “Trump 2020.” While reports claim he was off duty, some local Democratic Party members and government officials are calling the officer’s actions “unacceptable” and a form of “city funded voter intimidation.”
Steve Simeonidis, chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, was at an early polling site in downtown Miami when the officer walked in wearing a Trump mask. Simeonidis shared a photo of the officer, identifying him as Daniel Ubeda. “Ubeda should be suspended immediately,” he tweeted. The City of Miami hasn’t confirmed the officer’s name, but it did verify the photo, reports CBS Miami.
“We are aware of the photograph being circulated of a Miami Police officer wearing a political mask in uniform,” reads the Miami Police Department statement released on Tuesday. “This behavior is unacceptable, a violation of departmental police, and is being addressed immediately.” According to the Miami PD, the officer is now facing disciplinary action.
Here is @CityofMiami Police Officer Daniel Ubeda, in full uniform with badge and gun wearing his Trump mask inside of the polling location in government center.This is city funded voter intimidation.Ubeda should be suspended immediately. pic.twitter.com/TbJxu6mcem— Steve Simeonidis (@stevesimeonidis) October 20, 2020
Miami Police Department policy states that officers should “avoid all religious and political discussions or arguments” and “shall not interfere with or make use of the influence of their office for political reasons, nor shall they take part in any political activity” while on duty. According to Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, the officer was voting early and was not actively on duty, but the issue isn’t that he was voting in uniform. It’s that he promoted party affiliation while in uniform. “It’s important for police to be perceived as impartial,” Suarez told CBS Miami.
The idea of law enforcement remaining unaffiliated with political parties is an important one, but not one that is consistently upheld. In September 2019, the International Union of Police Associations endorsed President Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign. Just last month, the largest police union in the United States, the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents more than 355,000 police officers, also offered its endorsement of Trump. “The FOP is proud to endorse a candidate who calls for law and order across our nation,” union president Patrick Yoes said in a press release.
Trump touts his support from the law enforcement community because it aligns with his idea that he is the “law and order” president, but it only serves as another way to divide voters, the majority of whom agree that policing needs major changes. According to a 2020 Gallup poll, only six percent of people surveyed thought no changes needed to be made to law enforcement. Reform proposals have varying levels of support, but some of the most widely supported ideas include better relations with the community and greater accountability.
“A uniformed officer with a badge and a gun, wearing a Trump mask inside of a polling place, is absolutely unacceptable and shouldn’t be tolerated,” Simeonidis told CBS Miami. While both the police department and the mayor promised consequences, it is unclear what exactly that entails.
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