By Associated Press - Tuesday, October 20, 2020

MIAMI (AP) - A Miami police officer could face suspension after he was photographed wearing a mask promoting President Donald Trump inside an early voting site while wearing his uniform.

Miami-Dade County Democratic Chairman Steve Simeonidis tweeted Tuesday a photo of the officer, saying it was taken inside a polling place at the county government center. It shows the officer wearing a blue, white and red Trump 2020 mask containing a phrase with a curse word.

“This is city funded voter intimidation,” Simeonidis tweeted, calling for the officer’s suspension.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez held a press conference Tuesday to address the situation. He said the officer was in line to vote, and the mask violated department and polling place policy because it promoted a political candidate. He said the officer would be disciplined and said a suspension was a possibility.

“There were people claiming it was voter intimidation,” Suarez said. “Officers have a responsibility … to protect our residents and they have to do that in an impartial manner and they can’t be making political statements or making political stances while they are wearing a uniform.”

Suarez said officers are allowed to vote while in uniform.

“Had he not been voting it would have been a much more serious situation,” the mayor added.

Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina issued a statement Tuesday calling the behavior “unacceptable” and a violation of departmental policy. He said the action was being “addressed immediately.”

It was unknown whether the officer was on duty at the time, Suarez said.

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.

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