McCain stickers on Denver police vehicles? No they can’t

It’s against official Denver Police Department policy, but a blogger and a DNC visitor noticed DPD vehicles sporting McCain bumperstickers this week and complained. In one case, police appear to have scraped off the stickers; in the other, the department’s internal affairs has initiated an investigation because of a motorcycle cop’s intimidating reaction.

Colorado Pols blogger redstateblues snapped pictures Tuesday afternoon of two shiny white DPD transport vans parked downtown and surrounded by uniformed cops, displaying curious bumperstickers:

I wouldn’t have given them a second thought, but there were bumper stickers slapped on the back of both vans. Both stickers said: “Obama For Rockstar, McCain For President”. This begs the question: is the DPD allowing political messages to be presented on official department vehicles? If not, who put those stickers on the vans, and why do they think that it’s ok?

The blogger contacted DPD and asked. Lt. Ron Saunier called back with this response:

“Our official policy is not to have any political bumper stickers attatched to any department vehicles…. I am making an attempt to reach out to the commanders to make an effort to find these vehicles, and when they do, they will remove the material from the vehicles.”

Redstateblues says the lieutenant went on to speculate vandals might have slapped on the McCain stickers without the cops’ knowledge, but the blogger was skeptical:

I don’t think so though, there were several officers hanging around, and they obviously saw. I sincerely hope that this is an isolated incident.

Turns out it wasn’t an isolated incident, as Politics West’s Kirk Mitchell reports:

A Denver visitor filed a complaint against a Denver police officer for putting a pair of John McCain bumper stickers on his motorcycle.

But more troubling, said Warren Jones, 32, a Grand Junction music teacher, was the intimidation he said he felt when he asked the officer about the sticker.

“He got very belligerent,” said Jones, a Barack Obama supporter, about a Tuesday incident a block from the 16th Street Mall. “It really kind of unsettled me.”

Saunier restated DPD policy but this time didn’t suggest vandals might have defaced the motorcycle cop’s ride, probably because the cop reacted menacingly when Jones asked him about the McCain stickers:

After [Jones] asked the officer about the bumper sticker, he said the policeman approached him menacingly with his hand on his gun. He said the officer chided him by saying, ‘You don’t like democracy? It’s my right.'”

He said the officer told him that because the “police commissioner” supported McCain he could display any bumper sticker he wished to. Other officers also made fun of him, he said.

“It was really weird,” he said.

Saunier said the officer could be guilty of discourtesy, in addition to violating city policy by displaying a political bumpersticker, and could be disciplined.

Redstateblues later said he saw two vans with “bumper sticker-shaped glue prints,” though he couldn’t be sure they were the same vans he’d photographed earlier because they sped off.

The blogger discussed his story Thursday morning with KCFR’s Adam Burke. Listen here..

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