A New Jersey police chief sported a “Let’s Go Brandon” sweater at a private Christmas party, riling residents and other law enforcement officials, according to a report.
Hamilton Township Police Chief Gregory Ciambrone was photographed at the party wearing the sweater, which featured an image of former President Donald Trump along with the “Brandon” catchphrase, which is a code for “F—k Joe Biden,” the Daily Beast reported Thursday.
The photo, which was obtained by the outlet, was posted to Facebook on Dec. 5 by another department employee. The gathering was described as an “ugly sweater party,” according to the report.
“Can’t believe he wore that in public to a party,” one New Jersey resident who knows Ciambrone told the Daily Beast earlier this week.
Ciambrone, a veteran law enforcement officer who has received multiple awards throughout his career, was named Hamilton Township’s top cop in July 2019.
“Chief Ciambrone looks forward to leading this police department with his knowledge and professionalism and serving the residents of the Township of Hamilton,” department officials said at the time.
Attempts to reach Ciambrone, of Mays Landing, were unsuccessful early Friday. A message seeking comment from police was not immediately returned.
Multiple people confirmed Ciambrone as the man in the photo who wore the controversial sweater, according to the Daily Beast.
The coded message took on a life of its own in early October when an NBC reporter interviewing NASCAR driver Brandon Brown mistook the crowd’s vulgar “F—k Joe Biden” chant for “Let’s go Brandon.”
The phrase went viral within days, spawning roadway signs, apparel, rap songs and air travelers being asked to remove facemasks featuring the “offensive” slogan popular with conservatives and critics of President Biden.
Richard Rivera, director of the Penns Grove Police Department, said he was troubled by Ciambrone’s wardrobe choice.
“There are a million ugly Christmas sweaters the police chief could have worn,” Rivera told the Daily Beast. “The chief chose to be photographed among his peers wearing one to make a political statement during a time of significant racial divide and police mistrust in America.”
The chief’s decision to wear the garment doesn’t necessarily violate department policies, Rivera said, but it still sends a disturbing 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,” Rivera said.
Ciambrone could potentially be investigated if a resident filed a complaint, Rivera said, adding it’s unclear if the top cop would be formally reprimanded.
“Even an investigation is no guarantee this police chief would face any discipline for this ugly sweater,” Rivera said.
The Hamilton Township Committee, which appointed Ciambrone, and the mayor’s office declined to comment on the matter, the Daily Beast reported.