On Tuesday, a Miami, Fla., police officer was photographed wearing a pro-Trump face mask while voting at the city’s Government Center. Most states restrict campaigning for any candidate within a certain distance from a polling place, and many states extend those restrictions to the wearing of any clothing, buttons or other apparel that promotes a candidate. Now, Florida being Florida, it isn’t illegal to wear a face mask or anything else that shows support for a candidate while voting, but the officer in question did clearly violate department policy and will be facing disciplinary action.
The Miami-Herald reports that Officer Daniel Ubeda was spotted and photographed by the chairman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, Steve Simeonidis. Ubeda was wearing a face mask that read “Trump 2020” and “no more bullshit,” which is very much like me wearing a mask that reads, “Snoop 2020” and “no more smoking of the sticky-icky.”
“Police Officer Daniel Ubeda, in full uniform with badge and gun wearing his Trump mask inside of the polling location in government center,” Simeonidis tweeted. “This is city funded voter intimidation.”
Simeonidis also claimed Ubeda had committed a crime, citing a state statute prohibiting on and off-duty police officers from using “his or her official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with an election…” but, according to the Herald, that may not be accurate in this case (even though it damn sure should be).
From the Herald:
And police, whether on duty or not and like the public, are only permitted within 150 feet of a polling site if they are voting. Guns are also not permitted for the general public, concealed or otherwise, though there are exceptions to the statute for police.
On Monday, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Police Chief Jorge Colina announced they were deploying plain-clothed officers near voting sites after receiving an unusually large amount of emails and messages from voters who they said were worried about violence and intimidation at any of Miami’s four voting sites.
Also Monday, an on-duty Hialeah police officer was spotted standing with his arms crossed at the entrance to the JFK Library, the city’s largest voting site. After seeing the photo, an election official said she called staff at the library and the officer had moved on.
Either way, Udeba violated the policy of the Miami Police Department and the department said as much in a statement released Tuesday.
“We are aware of the photograph being circulated of a Miami Police officer wearing a political mask in uniform,” the statement read. “This behavior is unacceptable, a violation of departmental policy, and is being addressed immediately.”
As the Washington Post reports, Miami Police Department’s policies state 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.
It’s unclear exactly what repercussions Udeba will face, but Miami Mayor Francis Suarez (R) also condemned his actions and said in a tweet that he is “under investigation and disciplinary measures will be taken.”
Unsurprisingly, some officers tasked with enforcing the law have no problem breaking official rules at their own discretion.
According to the Herald, Simeonidis said Ubeda “laughed it off” after he was questioned about the mask and Ubeda’s union representatives defended him, saying he was simply expressing his First Amendment rights. Tommy Reyes, president of the bootleg Legion of Doom...I mean, the Fraternal Order of Police, said Ubeda did nothing wrong and that “We would also like to state that the national FOP has endorsed President Donald Trump’s reelection.”