NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — An NYPD officer is suspended and under investigation after video surfaced of him saying “Trump 2020” over a bullhorn while in a patrol car.
Videos, allegedly taken in Flatbush, Brooklyn, were posted on Twitter on Saturday night.READ MORE: Lionel Virgile Accused Of Throwing Bleach In Officer's Face, Tossing Lit Molotov Cocktail At Other Officers In Brooklyn
Eric Jenkins-Sahlin captured a 30-second video from his apartment.
He told CBS2’s Cory James he hit record when he heard police and someone near the crosswalk at Crooke Avenue and St. Paul Place get into a confrontation around 10 p.m.
“I heard somebody say ‘Trump 2020,’ and there was kind of some maybe low-key shouting back and forth,” Jenkins-Sahlin said.
The NYPD’s patrol guide bans on-duty or in-uniform officers from “endorsing political candidates or publicly expressing personal views and opinions.”
Sunday afternoon, the department announced the officer was suspended without pay for “using a department vehicle’s loud speaker for political purposes.”
The police officer from this incident has been identified and suspended without pay.
To repeat, law enforcement MUST remain apolitical, reassuring the public that we will enforce the law fairly and without prejudice regardless of anyone’s political beliefs. https://t.co/lFVmyaRjSb
— Commissioner Shea (@NYPDShea) October 25, 2020
Neighbor Rebecca Anderson says what makes it worse is that it happened days before the presidential election.
“As a public servant, you would hope they would try to remain unbiased as much as they can, at least on the job,” she said.
Commissioner Dermot Shea tweeted saying the behavior of the officer is “one hundred percent unacceptable. Period.” He later added, “Law enforcement must remain apolitical, reassuring the public that we will enforce the law fairly and without prejudice regardless of anyone’s political beliefs.”
One hundred percent unacceptable. Period.
Law Enforcement must remain apolitical, it is essential in our role to serve ALL New Yorkers regardless of any political beliefs.
It is essential for New Yorkers to trust their Police.
Updates to follow after initial investigation. https://t.co/C4zyVYWZvN
— Commissioner Shea (@NYPDShea) October 25, 2020READ MORE: Producer Scott Rudin Will 'Step Back' From Broadway Duties After Allegations Of Abusive Behavior
Chief of Department Terence Monahan also responded, writing, “Behavior like this will not be tolerated and will be dealt with.”
The Sergeants Benevolent Association responded on Twitter, saying, “The NYPD has a history of officers making political & outside the norm statements & ignoring it. Suspending, this officer is unnecessary & way over the top … What if the officer supported Biden?”
— SBA (@SBANYPD) October 25, 2020
They also referenced a photo of Monahan kneeling and holding hands with Black Lives Matter protesters in June, saying, “Chief of Departrnent [sic] took a knee with protestors no disciplinary action was issued.”
While retired NYPD lieutenant Darrin Porcher agrees the punishment may be extreme, he feels a political stance should be left up to the union, not the officer.
“We as police officers need to remain our own personal feelings towards whoever our candidate is in private, but in public, we need to soldier on,” Porcher said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio echoed that, saying, “ANY NYPD Officer pushing ANY political agenda while on duty will face consequences.”
Let me be clear: ANY NYPD Officer pushing ANY political agenda while on duty will face consequences. We will act fast here, and this will not be tolerated. https://t.co/c2cXwL2wUx
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) October 25, 2020
It’s a strong statement for those sworn to protect and serve.
“I think if the government is tipping their scale on the political spectrum, then I think that’s a serious problem,” Jenkins-Sahlin said.
It is unclear how long the officer will be suspended without pay. We also do not know if further disciplinary action will be taken.
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(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)