A Hartford Police Officer, someone I will admittedly know and consider a friend, made what some might call a poor decision, but the fire storm that is now erupting is ridiculous. The officer, who happens to be assigned to the neighborhood I call home, had stuck a "Trump" bumper sticker on the cover of the laptop in his cruiser. When the laptop was open, the "Trump" bumper sticker was visible through the windshield.
I saw the sticker first hand last Thursday when I was walking my dog in Asylum Hill. The officer, who was aware that I have had some health issues, pulled over to ask how I was doing and offer me some encouragement in my recovery. I saw the bumper sticker and laughed it off and told him he should remove that before it became a problem.
I guess I was a little too late because some one had already taken a picture of it. The officer did in fact remove the sticker. I wasn't offended by the bumper sticker , and saw it as more of a joke than anything else. I was a little amazed when I started getting text messages that the picture of the "TRUMP" bumper sticker was creating a Public relations storm on social media. My response was
"why even respond , it has been dealt with"
I also questioned, if it wasn't "TRUMP" would anyone care? I wish we could have conducted a social experiment and see if it created as much of an uproar if they were Hillary or Bernie stickers? I think not, but we will never know.
Any way, I explained to the officer that the issue was the sticker was on City property (the laptop cover). He got that and the sticker was removed. I told him feel free to plaster his personal vehicle with TRUMP stickers or load his front lawn with TRUMP signs. If that is who he believes in, that is his right to do so, but on City property is not appropriate.
That would seem like a logical ending at that point, but then a press release was put out by HPD this morning throwing more fuel on the fire.
Media, please see our statement below regarding picture circulating on social media:
We, the HPD command staff, were made aware of the irresponsible application of a political sticker in an HPD patrol car yesterday morning. We immediately addressed it. Now the matter will be referred to an internal investigation.
"This political sticker situation has been addressed. The sticker, which was conspicuously affixed to the top of a HPD laptop computer within the marked patrol vehicle, has been removed. The officer was counseled on the critical importance of remaining neutral and impartial. We also reminded all HPD officers to remain politically neutral. Specific daily roll call training is being given at all shifts. The matter will now be referred for an internal investigation.
I am, and we are, embarrassed and sorry for this lack of professionalism and judgement.”
I guess I just don't get it. Are we now prepared to ban all political buttons being worn by Public employees? Are we going to ban cars with bumper stickers from parking on City property? To what extreme will we go to disavow political candidates we may not agree with?The officer already admitted he used poor judgement placing the sticker there, why the need for an "Internal Investigation"? For what ? To decide if he was telling the truth when he said he was wrong?
And aren't there far worse things we could "Investigate" besides a police officer supporting a legitimate presidential candidate. Folks, that is what a Democracy is all about, choose a candidate, and let the masses decide on election day. The bumper sticker might have been the wrong way to do it, but I seriously doubt that one sticker inside a cruiser on a laptop in Hartford Connecticut is going to damage another candidate or propel Donald Trump into the White House.
And just a little bit of background. I don't support every one that wears an HPD badge and has a City of Hartford patch on their shoulder. But this officer is one of the good guys in my neighborhood. He "gets" the concept of community policing. Not just for me the loud mouth blogger that many fear and sometimes treat differently. But this officer has called me on many occasions when he has needed a little help or someone to call to help the people less fortunate in our neighborhood.
One such call was asking if I could push anyone on the state level to find shelter for a homeless veteran who was being passed around and having a hard time to get any assistance. This is an officer who regularly works with community court and Capitol Region Mental Health to assist so many of those "dumped' in Asylum Hill without any safety net. Ask the prosecutor at Community Court and he will most likely tell you this officer has a hotline to the court because they work so closely together.
I guess it just amazes me that we can focus on a good caring Officer who happens to support Donald Trump over a bumper sticker on a laptop, but there was hardly a peep when I posted about a drunken Hartford Officer running around Foxwoods Casino yelling the "N" word. How can we launch an "internal Investigation " ,if there really is one, when we can't complete an IAD Investigation into hundreds of thousands of dollars in missing ammunition, quite possibly at the hands of a dirty cop?
And finally, no one has to apologize to me or be embarrassed for me over this officers actions. I am proud to say I know him , consider him a friend and feel very comfortable he is keeping my quality of life in Asylum Hill through his efforts.