The Slatest

Police Union Chief: Officers Shouldn’t Escort Miami Dolphins Unless Players Stand for Anthem

Arian Foster, Kenny Stills, and Michael Thomas of the Miami Dolphins kneel during the national anthem before the game against the Patriots Sunday in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

When the Miami Dolphins face off against the Cleveland Browns in their first home game of the season next week, they may not have the customary police escort to the stadium. Why? The union that represents members of the Broward County sheriff’s department is calling on deputies to refuse the escorts unless players end their protest and all stand up during the national anthem. “We’ve asked the deputies and the Broward Sheriff’s Office not to do the details anymore,” Jeffery Bell, the president of the International Union of Police Associations, Local 6020, told a local CBS affiliate. If players won’t stand up on their own then the team has to force them to do it, according to Bell.

Lest you think the police union is some kind of undemocratic institution that doesn’t believe in the First Amendment, Bell insists that is not the case at all. It’s just that in this situation, the speech is a tad bit too free. “I respect their right to have freedom of speech. However, in certain organizations and certain jobs you give up that right of your freedom of speech temporary while you serve that job or while you play in an NFL game,” Bell said. The police union president also seems to believe the same sort of rules should apply to NFL players as to law enforcement officials.

“I can only imagine the public outcry if a group of police officers refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance or if we turned our back for the American flag for the national anthem. There would be a public outcry and internal affairs complaints a mile long on that,” he said.

Even if the players don’t get police escorts to the game there seems to be little chance that the stadium itself will be unprotected. Miami-Dade police said it has a “contractual obligations with Hard Rock Stadium to provide public safety.”

A similar boycott threat by the Santa Clara Police Officers’ Association that had warned officers may not work at San Francisco 49ers games due to Colin Kaepernick’s protests was called off. Even though the union vowed that it would encourage officers to work at the stadium, it also said they were “disappointed” by the team’s failure to not force the player’s hand.

Three Dolphins players—Arian Foster, Michael Thomas, and Kenny Stills—took a knee during the national anthem Sunday ahead of the game against the Patriots. That means there was one fewer Dolphins player participating in the protest than last week, when Jelani Jenkins also took part in the demonstration.