An Oregon police department revealed its removing the ‘thin blue line’ graphic on patrol cars because the symbol has become ‘divisive’.
The City of Bend Police Department said it will remove the decal from 29 patrol cars amid nationwide protests that have decried racial inequality and criticized the institution of law enforcement.
‘Our patrol vehicles are currently getting a makeover, by removing the blue line graphic on them. The “thin blue line” has meant many things over the decades,’ the department wrote on Facebook.
‘The divisive use of the thin blue line symbol to fit a narrative unassociated with our department or what we stand for, has unintentionally created an ongoing divide between some members of our community and the police officers who serve them.
The Bend Police Department Oregon announced last week that it would remove the thin blue line graphic from patrol vehicles (pictured)
‘In the spirit of mending divide, being inclusive with the community we serve, and to continue to build trust within our entire community, our current and future vehicle graphics package will no longer contain a blue line.
‘Moving forward, we will be looking for a design that incorporates a way to honor members of our first responder family who have given their life in service of their communities. Our goal is to have a symbol created that blends seamlessly with our existing mountain graphics.
The ‘thin blue line’ traditionally refers to the idea that authorities hold the line that separates order from unrest, but in recent months the symbol has been used a sort of counterforce to anti-racism and Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
The City of Bend Police Department shared a statement on Facebook addressing the decision and explaining the rationale
Chief Mike Krantz: ‘Some community members view it as an important piece on our cars, others view it as a barrier between the police and the community, so it’s my role to evaluate that and look at how we can best serve the entire community’
Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz explained to KTVZ that the blue line on Bend police vehicles was initially meant to be a blue horizon behind the mountain graphics.
‘The intent of the blue line with the black background is, of course, for current law enforcement is the memorial, the ultimate sacrifice of giving your life and service of your community,’ he told KTVZ.
But recently, the graphic has taken on different interpretation among residents and he said there’s a responsibility to ensure the community feels connected.
‘Some community members view it as an important piece on our cars, others view it as a barrier between the police and the community, so it’s my role to evaluate that and look at how we can best serve the entire community,’ said Krantz.
Krantz added that removing the decal does not diminish or invalidate community members who want to support law enforcement.
Resident Alex Burnett told the publication that he agreed with the Bend Police Department’s decision, but also noted it could be a ‘people-pleasing’ tactic.
‘I think it is a step forward, and it’s putting this conversation in the spotlight, which is a good move,’ Burnett said.
‘But I’d be interested to see what they actually have to say about it, because actions speak louder than words — but at this point this is just words.’
Mikki Slaska, another resident in Bend, shared the sentiment.
Amid nationwide protests, some people have leveled the thin blue ling flag as a response to anti-racism protests
Mikki Slaska: ‘Removing themselves from that symbol, to me, shows they’re not wanting to make it an ‘us and them’
‘Removing themselves from that symbol, to me, shows they’re not wanting to make it an ‘us and them,’ said Slaska.
Slaska added that they understood why the removal could be seen as controversial.
‘Even if the symbol has been around longer than these protests have gone on, I think it’s been picked up by people for a different reason, and that seems like why they would take it away,’ said Slaska. ‘Because it no longer stands for what it used to.’
Krantz told KTVZ that he’s listened to arguments on both sides of the aisle, but its not just about certain individual groups in the community.
‘My job is to bring the community together with law enforcement, and anything that can be used as a division or divisive tool is to eliminate it, if we can,’ said Krantz.