FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Broward County Police Benevolent Association is coming to the defense of a deputy who was reprimanded for wearing a QAnon patch during an event last month with Vice President Mike Pence.
Broward County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright said Sgt. Matt Patten was not authorized to wear the patch, which read "Question the Narrative."
QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory popular with a small group of supporters of President Donald Trump. At a July Trump rally in Tampa, some rallygoers sported QAnon shirts and signs.
"My character has been viciously attacked because of false accusations regarding a patch that I was wearing," Patten said in a statement. "I have been overwhelmed with the support from people all over the country and world, as well as the hundreds of BSO employees that have reached out to me with support."
The police union said Pattern began his law enforcement career in 1987, and has no disciplinary issues while working for the Broward County Sheriff's Office. Although he was photographed wearing the patch with Pence, the union said Pattern did not purposely wear the patch to be photographed with the vice president.
Pence was greeting first responders on Nov. 30 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after an event at the Diplomat hotel.
The union said Patten normally wears an American flag patch, but gave that patch to another deputy that day. He replaced the flag patch with the QAnon patch, which had been on his groin plate for weeks, according to the union.
The QAnon movement has been called everything from “a deranged conspiracy cult” to a grassroots movement “about the covert battles being waged between the deep state and President Trump.”
The group is named for "Q," an anonymous person who claims to be a member of the U.S. military intelligence.
Patten received a written reprimand Dec. 3. He was also removed from the Sheriff's Office's Strategic Investigations Division's Office of Homeland Security and from the agency's SWAT team, Coleman-Wright said. Patten will be reassigned to the Department of Law Enforcement, she said.
The Sheriff's Office said Patten had "discredited the agency, the country and himself."