Trump hat video could threaten community policing efforts

SAN ANTONIO -- A group of San Antonio Police officers is in hot water after being caught on video wearing Trump hats.

The video, which was taken as the officers were escorting the candidate during a Tuesday visit to the city, has become deeply divisive online.

Worse yet, it comes just as the city is trying to become a model for community policing.

Johnathan-David Jones, a member of Mayor Ivy Taylor's recently-appointed Council on Police-Community Relations, said the video concerns him because it contradicts the department's efforts to improve trust with the community.

"I would feel the same way if they were wearing Hillary shirts," said Jones. "Someone who carries a gun on a regular basis, and carries an ideology with them, is more of a militia than a police."

Mayor Taylor confirmed the officers seen in the video are violating city policy. She also expressed concern over the timing given the tenuous relationship between police departments and underserved communities that are skeptical of the badge.

RELATED: City of Phoenix demands Trump campaign pull ad featuring Phoenix police officers

"I don't want police to do anything to jeopardize or undermine that effort," said Taylor. "We need our police at all times to be part of that positive narrative."

SAPD chief William McManus confirmed in a statement that the officers will face discipline, but the department declined to comment on what kind of discipline they would face.

The San Antonio Police Officers Association also offered a statement, acknowledging the violation but saying the officers were likely just "caught up in the moment."

Jones said the video undoubtedly made many people flinch, but he doesn't think it will derail efforts to improve community policing.

In fact, he said, with effort, it could even be a positive thing.

"Just like in any relationship, you can't better that relationship unless both parties are willing, to be honest," said Jones. "So I think this created space to say, 'okay, this is what's really going on here.'"

On Tuesday, the city sent an open letter to the Trump campaign asking them to respect city policy and take the video down from their Twitter page. The video was still up throughout the day Wednesday.

(© 2016 KENS)


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