Police in Florida have responded to NFL players kneeling during the national anthem by cutting the amount of security present at a Miami Dolphins game.
The number of off-duty police officers working at the most recent Miami Dolphins game was roughly one-third less than usual, according to the Washington Examiner.
Typical Dolphins games have about 400 officers working security, while the game on Oct. 22 had 270 officers present.
Dade County Police Benevolent Association President John Rivera said of players protesting during the anthem, “This whole movement started against police officers. And now it’s morphed into disrespecting the flag and the country.”
Only 175 officers volunteered to work at the game, so Miami-Dade Police Department Director Juan Perez said he had to mandate officers into working to make up for the shortage.
“I made the decision to mandate officers to work the game under operational necessity,” Perez said, according to WTVJ. “My hope is that you understand my decision. Always remember that we have a greater responsibility than others.”
Rivera said that “working the game, or not working the game, is a personal choice and has at the very least the same level of freedom these ‘entertainers’ claim to express.” He added that the opt-out by officers would result in “the minimal amount” of security at the game, “where they feel safe, but I don’t think they’re going to have the ideal amount.”
The debate over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem was reignited when President Donald Trump said team owners should fire any “son of a b***h” who did not stand for the anthem.
Officers around the country have counter-protested the demonstrations by NFL players. In September, officers in Cleveland, Ohio, refused to hold the American flag during pregame ceremonies at a Cleveland Browns game after players kneeled during the anthem.
“The bottom line is when they kneeled like that I was done with it,” said Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene. “I pulled my officers out of there and they’re not permitted to work there anymore.”
Following the controversy caused by Browns players protesting during the national anthem, the team issued a statement, reports WJW.
“As an organization, we have a profound respect for our country’s National Anthem, flag and the servicemen and servicewomen in the United States and abroad,” the statement from the team reads. “We feel it’s important for our team to join in this great tradition and special moment of recognition, at the same time we also respect the great liberties afforded by our country, including the freedom of personal expression.”
Sources: Washington Examiner, WTVJ, WJW / Featured Image: June Rivera/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald (2)