According to left-leaning news outlet the Daily Beast, a police chief from a small town in New Jersey is "under fire" for wearing a "Let's Go Brandon" sweater to a Christmas Party — except it appears only a handful of residents and an unrelated former cop are actually upset about it.
What are the details?
Township of Hamilton Police Chief Gregory Ciambrone was reportedly photographed last year wearing a sweater bearing the controversial catchphrase on it, which has become a tongue-in-cheek way of saying, "F*** Joe Biden." Alongside the slogan was an illustration of former President Donald Trump sporting a Santa Hat and smirking.
The photo, which was taken at "what appears to have been a small holiday gathering," according to the outlet, was reportedly uploaded to Facebook on Dec. 5 by another police department employee. In the post, the gathering was described as an "ugly sweater party."
In the photo, Ciambrone was allegedly seen posing with five other men who wore sweaters as well, though none with inflammatory phrases displayed.
The incident appeared to go for weeks without receiving any noticeable attention. Not so much as a local news report was published outlining any subsequent backlash to Ciambrone's sweater choice.
Yet after recently being tipped off about the Facebook post, the Daily Beast decided to spend precious time and resources writing up an 800-word exposé on the ordeal, putting the police chief on blast.
What did the Beast say?
In the article, the Daily Beast claimed that "experts" and "multiple residents" were "enraged at the embrace of a far-right catchphrase." But only one resident and one unrelated former New Jersey police officer are quoted in the article offering substantive criticism.
"Can’t believe he wore that in public to a party," the area resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said.
"Experts on criminal justice were aghast at the chief’s choice of apparel," the article stated, going on to quote Richard Rivera, a former New Jersey police officer who reportedly served as an expert witness in misconduct cases.
"There are a million ugly Christmas sweaters the police chief could have worn," Rivera, who is now a police director in Penns Grove, told the outlet, noting that Ciambrone’s sweater choice did not violate any rules or regulations but sent a troubling message.
"Police executives should refrain from making comments that violate their agency rules of conduct or portray police in a poor light where it would question their ability to fairly and impartially enforce the law," he suggested.
The Daily Beast reportedly harassed Ciambrone by sending multiple messages to his personal phone and email seeking comment on the incident. The outlet also reached out to the Township of Hamilton Police Department. Neither Ciambrone nor the department responded.
In apparent hopes of instigating an investigation, the outlet tried to contact the Township Committee and the mayor’s office, both of which reportedly declined to comment on the story.
The outlet's intentions were clear. It described the catchphrase as "conservative code" that has "sometimes been touted by advocates of bogus conspiracy theories about fraud in the 2020 election."
Elsewhere in the article, the outlet claimed that Ciambrone's behavior is particularly hurtful at a time when the country is "still facing a national reckoning over police brutality and grappling with a sustained lack of public trust in law enforcement."
Ciambrone is reportedly a highly respected police veteran who has received several awards for his service. According to a department Facebook post, the Township of Hamilton promoted him to chief of police in July 2019.
"During his career, Chief Ciambrone has received multiple awards, including the Gallantry Star and the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year in 2010," the post said. "He also continued to further his education and received a Masters of Administrative Science from Farleigh Dickinson University in 2012. He has received numerous certificates for Professional Training in multiple areas."