Last week, Assistant Chief Anuta Najiy stood at attention with her arms at her side next to four other command staff as they recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
According to U.S. Military Code, Assistant Najiy was following protocol. Police department leaders echoed the same sentiment.
However, Fraternal Order of Police President Javier Ortiz is calling for Najiy to be reprimanded for not saluting or covering her heart during the Pledge.
“Since she clearly has no respect for the flag or the United States, on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police, I am requesting that Assistant Chief Najiy is removed as the commander of the MPD Honor Guard Detail,” he wrote in a letter to Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes.
Police Maj. Delrish Moss responded to Ortiz’s request by producing a section of the conduct code for U.S. military personnel, and stated that it overrode police procedure. It read: “When in uniform, indoors, stand at attention, remain silent, and face the flag.”
“That’s exactly what she did. The Honor Guard follows U.S. military code. She was following U.S. military code. It had nothing to do with personal beliefs,” Moss stated.
Neither Najiy nor Ortiz responded to requests for an interview.
Ortiz shared a 23-second video showing the incident on his personal Facebook page.
He wrote in his letter: “If she isn’t loyal to the United States of America, what country is she loyal and shows allegiance to?”
In the comment section of Ortiz’s post and a number of police chat sites, a number of people have referenced Najiy’s religious beliefs. However, Moss stated that that had no bearing on her decision not to salute the flag.
The city’s code of conduct for police officers states that a uniformed officer, unless engaged in police duties, “will face the approaching flag and render a sharp military salute. Members in civilian clothes will stand at attention, holding right hand over left breast.”
The 23-second video was taken during a promotional ceremony at the police department’s College of Policing where seven officers joined the chief’s command staff. The city’s Honor Guard, which Najiy oversees, was present at the ceremony.
Ortiz was seated near the front row at the hour-long ceremony, and the video he posted showed Llanes, Deputy Chief Luis Cabrera, City Manager Daniel Alfonso, and Assistant Chief Jorge Gomez next to Najiy. All except Najiy had their hands over their hearts during the Pledge.