The on-duty officer soon got his wish, as multiple videos of the incident were uploaded and have been viewed about 2 million times on social media by Monday morning, sparking backlash from residents and officials.
The New York Police Department announced Sunday it had suspended the officer without pay, effective immediately. The officer, who has not been named, is under investigation “for using a department vehicle’s loud speaker for political purposes,” the NYPD tweeted.
His actions appeared to violate the NYPD’s conduct guidelines, which strictly prohibit “endorsing political candidates or publicly expressing personal views and opinions” while on duty or in uniform.
New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea condemned the incident in a statement as “One hundred percent unacceptable,” saying police must “serve ALL New Yorkers regardless of any political beliefs.”
“When you wear our uniform, it is imperative to remain apolitical,” tweeted New York Police Chief of Department Terence A. Monahan.
Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) promised swift action to prevent further incidents of officers promoting their personal politics on the job, especially so close to the presidential election.
“Let me be clear: ANY NYPD Officer pushing ANY political agenda while on duty will face consequences,” de Blasio tweeted. “We will act fast here, and this will not be tolerated.”
The Brooklyn incident is the latest instance of a police officer publicly flouting public conduct guidelines to support Trump. Miami police officer Daniel Ubeda is under investigation after he wore a “Trump 2020” mask while in full uniform at a polling site last week.
The situation in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn began around 10 p.m. Saturday, according to NBC News. Brandon Hines, who filmed one of the videos, told the New York Daily News that a man made an obscene gesture at the officer for stopping his cruiser in a crosswalk, which led the officer to respond, “Trump 2020.″
In one 12-second video, the man then starts filming and challenges the police officer in the cruiser to “do it again,” as two other officers stand outside the vehicle.
“What, you can’t say ‘Trump 2020’ now?” the man says, cursing at the officer inside the car.
That’s when the officer grabs the microphone and says, “Trump 2020.” After the officer utters his support for the president over the cruiser’s speaker, the man calls him a “fascist.”
A separate 30-second video taken by Hines from a building across the street captured the officer continuing to prod passersby to post his pro-Trump rhetoric online.
“Take a picture, take a picture, take a video. Put it on your Facebook, put it on your YouTube,” the officer says over the loudspeaker. “Have some fun.” The officer then seems to call out the man who first confronted him, saying, “Tough guy, tough guy.”
Critics have questioned the impartiality of the city’s police since the Police Benevolent Association, New York’s largest police union, endorsed Trump in August, the first time in decades the group has backed a candidate for president. In response to a recent op-ed in Streetsblog New York questioning whether police could be trusted to keep peace in the city following the election, the union denounced the notion as “hysterical nonsense.” De Blasio recently backed the police, saying in a news conference last week he believes New York officers “leave their politics at home and they go and do what has to be done to keep people safe.”
While some credited the NYPD for quickly suspending the officer in Saturday’s videos, critics called out the mayor and police for not doing enough to hold officers more accountable for letting politics bleed into policing.
“My tax dollars did not pay for NYPD officers to broadcast Trump 2020 from their cruiser,” one resident noted.