MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The State Attorney’s Office is now reviewing an incident involving a Miami police officer spotted at a Miami early voting polling site wearing a pro-Trump mask, an incident that Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina called ‘unacceptable.’
“While I respect the Officer’s First Amendment right to express his opinion and support any candidate he wishes, I agree with Chief Colina’s statement calling his actions unacceptable,” wrote State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle in a press release.
“Wearing one’s police uniform at a voting site while expressing a political opinion may be construed as an official attempt to send a distinct message to potential voters. This should not occur in Miami-Dade County. Accordingly, I have asked my staff to look into this matter.”
The officer was in full uniform with badge and gun inside the polling site at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center in downtown Miami on Tuesday, October 20. The officer was wearing a blue, white and red Trump 2020 mask with a phrase containing a curse word.
Democratic Chairman Steve Simeonidis tweeted the picture saying “This is city funded voter intimidation” and called for the officer’s suspension.
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 Mayor Francis Suarez held a press conference Tuesday afternoon and said the officer was voting early and not working. However, Suarez said as a Miami police officer, you can vote in uniform but you are not allowed to wear anything with party affiliation.
“It’s important for police to be perceived as impartial,” said Suarez.
He said the officer would be disciplined and said suspension was a possibility.
Chief Colina also said it was a violation of departmental policy but did not reveal what punishment the officer might face or the specific policy the officer is accused of breaking.
Tommy Reyes, president of the officer’s union, said in a statement that police officers have free-speech rights under the U.S. Constitution, and state law allows officers to vote in uniform. Reyes also pointed out that the union, Fraternal Order of Police, has endorsed Trump’s re-election bid at the national level.
Meantime, Fernandez Rundle says her office has activated their Voter Protection Task Force “to ensure that everyone has a fair and equal chance to cast their votes. Our investigators and civilian employees are available throughout the early voting period at the designated locations during voting hours.” She is encouraging anyone who suspects improper or irregular activity to speak to them or call the Voter Protection Hotline at 305-547-3300.