Remove Thin Blue Line Flags from Police Uniforms? Readers Weigh In.

By Calibre Press  |   Aug 25, 2021

Not surprisingly, Jim Glennon’s recent commentary on the Mt. Prospect, IL Village Board vote to remove thin blue line flag patches from their police officers’ uniforms drew spirited response. Those Board members who voted to remove the patches cited a belief that they reflected a symbol of hate perpetuated by actual hate groups who, those Board members claimed, have used the thin bue line flag as a symbol of their warped beliefs…although actual evidence of that is difficult, if not impossible to come by.

The majority of our readers who responded to the piece felt that the removal of the patches represented a misguided, ignorant act of disrespect for the true spirit of the meaning of that symbol. Others were troubled by the addition of the thin blue line image to any version of the flag. Although not an argument brought forth by the Board, those readers felt the image was inappropriate and possibly a violation of law, although department decision-makers had confirmed the artistically altered image they chose was in fact not in violation of any flag-related law.

Here’s a sample of some of the responses we received:

Chief Deputy Dale Ward with Box Elder County Sheriff in Utah writes:

This is despicable to say the least. Not sure if you heard but the Black Lives Matter leader in Utah, Lex Scott, tried to say the American Flag was a symbol of hatred and anyone who flew it was a racist.

Here is one of the many articles covering the issue.

Thank God my leaders in Utah stood up to her and denounced her claims. 

Great article and your thoughts are spot on. I cannot believe how the leaders of our local governments, states and as far as that goes, the nation are caving to the whims of these groups. 

I am so thankful to live in a county where the majority of our citizens love and respect the police. Almost daily I have someone who thanks me for my service. I cannot imagine living in a hateful environment and trying to work under those conditions. We work hard every day to continue building relationships with our citizens. 

Thank you for your service and your articles and opinions. 

Sgt. James Reschke (ret.), San Diego PD & Cook Co. (IL) Dept. of Corrections

There is no doubt this action is an insult to the local officers as well as officers everywhere. This won’t be the last insult either. The police profession has absorbed these insults for many years, yet they will carry onward.

The best people who support law enforcement can do is to vote these political representatives out of office. The people need to let these elected officials know their decision is not supported by the people.

Symbols have meaning. Symbols are important. They carry history. The thin blue line represents police officers. It also reflects meaning in our flag, as a symbol of strength, and hope for a better society, a more perfect union, a better United States.

Sgt. Sean A. Conner with Mill Creek (WA) Police writes:

I just read your editorial on the “Blue-Line Flag.” I agree with your view that “political correctness” is getting out of control. But I knew this would happen forty years ago when I read “Fahrenheit 451” in high school. Hopefully, our society will come to its senses long before it gets that far. 

Having said that though, I would also say that because there has been so much co-opting of that flag by extreme right-wing pinheads, it may be in the best interests of law enforcement to set aside, at least for the time being, the outward representations of it on uniforms, vehicles, buildings, etc. I think that the social environment is so highly charged and polarized that any symbol that creates dissent among the uninformed is only going to backfire on those who know the true history and meaning behind some of these images.

As for me, though, I know the intended meaning of the “Blue-Line Flag” and having been in this job now for over thirty years, I am inclined to not give it as much importance as the actual flag its design is based upon. Before I came to law enforcement, I was an officer in the United States Navy and my first oath and allegiance was, and still is, to the Constitution and the flag that represents it. Now, if they come for that flag, then I’ll have an issue.

And regarding history; you imply in your article that the “Blue-Line Flag” has a hundred years of history behind it. Personally, I only became aware of its existence within the last five-plus years or so. Is it really a hundred years old? When and where was it first displayed? Making the history of something generally more well-known can help to alleviate some concerns about something among at least the more reasonable sectors of society. If someone with thirty years in law enforcement is ignorant of that history, you can only imagine what the depth of knowledge the average citizen might have about it.

Thank you for your article and time.

Capt. Daniel Grasso (ret.) formerly with the U.S. Capitol Police writes:

Tell you what – display the flag as the flag, unaltered.  Want a blue line – wear a patch with a blue line.  Seems like every group wants to wrap themselves in the flag.  (OK, the police and first responders have a claim on that – but do it with an unaltered flag)

Tsunami – like requiring background checks for firearm purchases will result firearm confiscation?

Unlike taking prayer out of schools (because it’s the law) this action by the town will not result in the downfall of the town (or country for that matter)

Florida State Investigator Rick Lallement who retired as a Master Deputy Sheriff/Detective with Orange Co. (FL)  Sheriff’s Office, writes:

I think we have internally promoted or hired outside executive leadership in some agencies who are more inclined to protect themselves instead of protecting their subordinates or standing up for the truth and our oaths of office to serve and protect.   I do not recall anything indicating bowing and capitulating anywhere in the oath of office.  Something as simple as educating the public and the woke elected class in the true meaning of something as simple as the true meaning behind the thin blue line and why it is associated with the great flag of this country. 

It clearly shows we have some leaders in our ranks who are leaders their subordinates should think twice about even following into a 7-11.  We have allowed this cancer fester to a point where effective and proactive law enforcement is gone until we say enough, your time is up, we as a people will not cheapen our legacy for an illiterate mob. 

We must stand together and elect qualified individuals to represent our communities by vetting them and their ideologies before we cast our solemn votes to elect these purveyors of hate and destruction for the way of life our brothers and sisters gave their lives to protect and defend.

From Deputy Tom Harmsen (ret.), Kalamazoo Co. (MI) Sheriff’s Department:

Yes I’m retired, but I’m sure there are plenty of currently employed LEOs that hold my same opinions.  First, the thin blue line flag obviously implies the fact that those in law enforcement stand as a barrier between the good and decent people in our society, and evil predatory criminals who care NOTHING about the rights of others and are willing to do horrific things in order to do whatever it is that they WANT to do. The ONLY people who would be offended by what the thin blue flag symbol represents are the criminals and those people who support the criminals!

Unfortunately, as we’ve seen with our own eyes, organized evil, organized crime, tyrannical socialism, has grown to such an extent that it has taken over control of our federal (and many state and local) government and is currently engaged in attempting to secure its control over our military.   

Quite frankly, I no longer CARE what evil people think. I only care that good and decent people RECOGNIZE the evil that is taking over our society.  

One guy’s opinion.

Finally, Capt. Clarence Hayes (ret.) from the Hanover Co. (NC) Sheriff’s Office comments:

I don’t think that the thin blue line flag is necessarily a symbol of hate. Nor did I believe that Colin Kaepernick and others who chose to kneel in protest during the playing of the national anthem were acting in the name of hate.  

However, that “American” flag, displayed on police uniforms and vehicles under 18 USC 700 appears to fit the criteria for desecration of the American flag.  Those “patriots” who denigrated athletes for kneeling at sports events seem not to mind disrespecting the national symbol depending on who or why the act is conducted.   

Perhaps the question ought to be, “Is there a convenient double standard?”

Additional comments? E-mail us at: [email protected].

The following two tabs change content below.

Calibre Press

Calibre Press has 37 years in the business of keeping officers safer, smarter and more successful, from rookie to retirement.