More than a dozen Texas policemen are in the doghouse this week after being filmed with Donald Trump while wearing hats bearing the candidate’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.”
The San Antonio officers had escorted Trump to the airport on Tuesday, after which Trump shared a video of the encounter on Twitter:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2016
Critics quickly charged that Trump and the officers were using the video as a political endorsement not befitting public servants like policemen.
Official San Antonio policy indeed prohibits public employees — such as uniformed policemen — from actively engaging in political activities on public time. In other words, they shouldn’t have worn the hats.
Thus, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus has now said in a statement that the officers “will be disciplined appropriately…I expect them to know better than to give the appearance of endorsing a candidate while on duty and in uniform, regardless of the political campaign or the candidate.”
What “disciplined appropriately” actually means remains to be seen. According to San Antonio Police Officers Association President Mike Helle, “It seems kind of benign. They’d probably get a written reprimand or counseling to not do that sort of thing on duty.”
In determining how much the officers are at fault, it is not known if the officers brought the hats with them — perhaps a difficult feat considering their motorcycle helmets — or if the Trump campaign gave them the hats.
If it’s the latter, this wouldn’t be the first time that the Republican nominee has come under fire for improperly using footage of himself interacting with uniformed police officers for political purposes.
Last month, Phoenix City Attorney Brad Holm was forced to send the Trump campaign a cease-and-desist letter asking them to take down a political ad featuring Phoenix police officers shaking hands with Trump.
“The officers depicted in the ad were in uniform precisely because they were on duty performing work for Phoenix at the time,” wrote Holm. “In this context, the ad unmistakably and wrongfully suggests that Phoenix and the officers support or endorse Mr. Trump’s campaign.”
But in both Phoenix and now San Antonio, whether the city approved of the underlying political message or not, the video still exists and the damage has already been done.