The Broward Sheriff’s Office SWAT sergeant who wore a “QAnon” conspiracy patch on his official uniform when he posed in a photo with Vice President Mike Pence at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport last week received a written reprimand and will be reassigned, the department announced Monday.
Sgt. Matthew Patten, a 27-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, was found to have violated the department’s uniform code and displayed “conduct unbecoming an employee,” according to the official reprimand signed by Patten. He was removed from BSO’s Strategic Investigations Division’s Office of Homeland Security and the agency’s S.W.A.T. Team and will be reassigned to the Department of Law Enforcement.
The decision comes days after the photo of Patten with Pence and other deputies was posted on the Vice President’s official Twitter page. The tweet was later deleted.
Pence was in town Friday for the 2018 Israeli-American Council National Conference. Patten was part of a group of deputies assisting the U.S. Secret Service with a security detail, according to the reprimand. Pence asked for a group photo, Capt. Steven Robson said in the letter.
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Patten could be seen clearly sporting the patch, which included an upper-case “Q” and the phrase “Question the Narrative.” The patch refers to a baseless, far-right conspiracy theory birthed online that purports the existence of an international pedophilia ring affiliated with prominent Democrats.
On Friday afternoon, Jared Holt, a reporter for Right Wing Watch, was the first to flag the tweet to his followers. The picture quickly spread across the internet.
In the two-page “Counseling Report,” Robson explained that “the symbolism of the patch is very controversial as ‘Q’ is representative of a controversial conservative political conspiracy group identified as ‘QAnon.’
“Being a highly political entity with a narrow one-sided scope of positioning, public alignment and representation of such group is in contrast with the core values of political neutrality within the Broward Sheriff’s Office,” he wrote, adding that the story was shared on national and local platforms including the Washington Post, the Miami Herald and the Sun Sentinel. “This resulted in negative ramifications on a national platform as a controversy for the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the county, S.W.A.T. team and Sgt. Patten.”