From NPR news. I'm Ari Shapiro and I'm Elsa Chang.
Chang. We know a number of off duty Police took part in the Trump Rally on January 6th, which turned into a siege on the U. S. Capitol. Houston officer who allegedly entered the capital now faces federal charges. He has resigned and other police departments are investigating whether any of their officers broke the law in Washington, D. C. But they're also deciding if the events at the Capitol change where to draw the line for officers when it comes to politics and free speech. NPR's Martin cost reports. As far as we know, the biggest contingent of off duty cops at that rally came from Seattle. At least five officers. They're being investigated, and there's no public evidence yet that they broke the law. Still, alarm bells are going off for some people in the city. What Mork can we do to help understand how deep the iceberg really is here? Douglas Wagner is a member of the Community Police Commission, a citizen advisory group, which discussed the matter in a zoom meeting. Because I just I can't think of anything that's more problematic for trust between SPD and the community, especially at this already. Tenuous moment. Then to find out that there are potential officers potentially involved in this attempted coup. Another member of the group of Black officer named Mark Mullens talked about colleagues who've worn Maga hats to the precinct to me. That's like wearing a Confederate flag or or bringing a Confederate flag to work. Underneath this discussion, there's a deeper question. Is it still acceptable for cops to be pro Trump? It's not a call that Andrew Meyer Berg wants to make. He runs Seattle's Office of Police Accountability, which is investigating the five officers. His focuses on whether they broke the law in Washington, not the beliefs that took them there. I think people are entitled to their political views. And I don't think it is my job to be policing those political views unless there's some component of it that clearly violates SPD policy. At the same time, Meyer Berg says, it's no secret that police are often more conservative than the community. It certainly creates. Friction. When law enforcement is policing a city that's as progressive as Seattle or Washington, D C. Or Portland. There is this natural friction there. Context often plays a role in whether a cops, political views are acceptable. Georgetown law professor Christie Lopez is an expert in this area, she says courts apply a balancing test. Ah police officers free speech rights on one side and on the other. There's a police departments interest in protecting its reputation and legitimacy. What does that tell us? For example, if an officer wants to wear a mag a hat to a baseball game is that balancing test? Different on January 5th than it is on January 7th. Maybe maybe that's different After we have come to believe that Trump actually instigated an attack on the Capitol. Lopez isn't saying that the balance has changed in that way just that it could With that in mind, some police officers are now scrubbing their social media just in case Houston police officers, Union President Doug Griffith says some cops there became concerned when the chief recently vowed to search for political extremists in the ranks. We received several calls from our members asking How is he going to do this? What does this mean? You just mean if I like the Trump tweet that I'm going to be disciplined. Griffith assured the officers that that would not happen, though He also gives them this advice. If you can't post on your church bulletin board what you're gonna put on Facebook or Twitter, and you probably shouldn't put it out there. Griffith doesn't think the many Trump supporters in law enforcement people like himself now have to worry about being penalized for that support. But when it comes to drawing lines, he has one of his own. He says all officers, regardless of political sympathies need to respect the nation's electoral process. And the fact that Joe Biden is now the president. Martin cost NPR news. I've seen a