In the midst of an uproar Tuesday over a SWAT team member who was photographed wearing the symbol of a fringe conspiracy theory, questions arose about the meaning of a second patch he wore on his uniform.
But the mystery patch, it turns out, was simply the symbol of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team — an image of an ax and scythe.
Still, Deputy Mike Patten — a 31-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office — shouldn’t have been wearing the SWAT patch or any insignia other than name tag, sheriff’s markings and a star patch, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Joy Oglesby.
Department rules prohibit it.
Patten initially drew attention that went viral when he appeared wearing SWAT garb and a “QAnon” patch in a photo of a Nov. 30 stop by Vice President Mike Pence at Hollywood-Fort Lauderdale International Airport.
Patten was disciplined for wearing the QAnon patch, symbol of a conspiracy theory — that President Donald Trump has been working to root out a cabal of Democrat pedophiles. Patten was removed from the SWAT team after the image was tweeted then deleted by Pence’s office.
By wearing the overtly political patch in the presence of the vice president, Patten displayed “conduct unbecoming an employee,” according to a two-page internal memo about the incident.
Patten had publicly displayed the SWAT insignia before.
Last year, during a presentation of night vision goggles to the Sheriff’s Office, the Sheriff’s Foundation of Broward videotaped Patten putting one of the goggles on a helmet adorned with the ax and scythe insignia.
That, too, is prohibited, Oglesby said.
Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Howard Altman at [email protected] or (813) 225-3112 . Follow @haltman.