Florida sheriff demotes deputy who flashed QAnon patch at VP photo-op

Vice President Pence was photographed Friday greeting Broward County sheriff’s officers, one of whom is wearing a QAnon patch on his uniform (officer at left in photo below), later identified as Sgt. Matt Patten. Read story here.

QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory that asserts the existence of a “deep state” opposed to Trump and his supporters, and claims prominent liberals have engaged in child sex trafficking and plotting a coup d’etat against the U.S. government.

While Pence sought to distance himself from this embarrassing photo-op, the incident raised questions about the sheriff’s department:

  1. Why is any officer (let alone a sergeant) allowed to wear political insignia on his uniform while on duty?
  2. Why is a QAnon follower a police officer in the first place? Does that person have the judgment and critical thinking skills required to be a police officer? The QAnon patch strongly suggests he does not.
  3. Knowing these cops were going to meet the Vice President and publicity shots would appear in the news media, didn’t anybody conduct a uniform inspection beforehand?

On Monday, the sheriff’s department announced that Sgt. Patten has been reprimanded, removed from the SWAT team, and reassigned to routine law enforcement duties. Read details here.

It’s now clear this uniform alteration wasn’t approved by Patten’s superiors. But something deeper than an individual officer going rogue may be involved here. The Broward County Sheriff, Scott Israel, is a Democrat who supports gun control; earlier this year, the deputies’ union voted “no confidence” in the sheriff and asked the governor to remove him. What we probably have here is an open act of defiance and insubordination — a premeditated clash — between a rightwing cop and his elected boss. Why was this challenge to the sheriff’s office authority structure tolerated with minor punishment? Why wasn’t he fired? 


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