A nine-year veteran officer in Anne Arundel County has been suspended as punishment for placing an “Oath Keepers” hat signaling support for the group in his cruiser.
The Capital reports a woman noticed the hat in the car’s windshield while walking through a parking lot at Annapolis Towne Center. She contacted police, and the department confirmed to outlets this morning that they had suspended him.
His apparent support of the group would seem to be a conflict of interest within a law enforcement agency, given the Oath Keepers’ leanings. The Southern Poverty Law Center says the group has “risen to be one of the most influential groups in the antigovernment movement.”
On their website, they describe themselves as a nonpartisan collective of current and veteran police officers, first responders and military members. They “pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to ‘defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’” They’re perhaps best known for engaging in an armed standoff with federal agents in 2014 in support of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who refused to pay federal grazing fees for years. Its members also showed up armed in Ferguson, Mo., during the riots following the police-involved fatal shooting of Michael Brown.
In the latter case, a St. Louis County police officer was placed on leave after he was videotaped describing his violent military experience, willingness to kill and his negative attitude toward Muslims. He was speaking to a group of Oath Keepers members in the video.
In this case, the officer made no such comments, but the Anne Arundel County police chief told the Capital the department has a policy against officers espousing political views. His suspension is ongoing as police investigate.
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