MIAMI – The head of the Miami police union is seeking disciplinary action against the assistant police chief after she refused to salute the American flag while in uniform during a promotional ceremony.
Sgt. Javier Ortiz, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, wants Assistant Chief Anita Najiy removed from her position as honor guard commander. He sent a letter Monday to Chief Rodolfo Llanes seeking a reprimand.
Ortiz claims that Najiy's failure to salute the flag "to make a political statement" during Friday's ceremony at the Miami Police College is a violation of the police oath. He calls her actions "unprofessional and disgraceful."
"She is actively refusing to show allegiance to the United States of America, which is part of our oath as law enforcement officers," Ortiz told Local 10 News. "This has been going on for several months."
A video posted on the police union's YouTube channel shows Najiy standing with the other officers in uniform during the Pledge of Allegiance. However, Najiy doesn't place her hand over her heart.
"By not publicly showing her allegiance to our nation with the rest of the Miami Police Department, she is violating our oath," Ortiz wrote.
Ortiz also questions Najiy's allegiance to the country.
"If she isn't loyal to the United States of America, what country is she loyal and allegiant to?" Ortiz wrote.
"What makes you think she does not have allegiance just because of a physical actions?" asked Local 10's Glenna Milberg.
"Because she is denouncing the United States in full police uniform and she is making a political statement by wearing that uniform," Ortiz said.
"But is that what she's doing or that's your take on what she's doing?" Milberg asked.
"Well, what else is she doing? She's not pledging allegiance to the flag," Ortiz said.
Najiy was promoted last year with great fanfare as the first female assistant chief in city history. She is a 30-plus year veteran with the Miami Police Department.
The Miami Police Department hasn't commented on whether any action will be taken. The department will only say it is reviewing the matter, as is the city's legal department.
Guidance may come from one of the most well-known U.S. Supreme Court opinions over students in public school being forced salute the flag or recite the pledge.
West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette states: "... The action of the local authorities in compelling the flag salute and pledge -- transcends constitutional limitations on their power -- and invades the sphere of intellect and spirit which it is the purpose of the First Amendment."
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