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Police officials in Bend, Ore., have ordered the removal of “thin blue line” graphics from patrol vehicles, claiming they are “divisive” and contribute to an “ongoing divide” in the community.
“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 its Facebook page, indicating the graphic would be removed from 29 vehicles.
“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 message continued.
“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,” the message adds.
“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,” it concludes.
To many, the phrase ‘thin blue line’ and accompanying graphic have symbolized — and honored — the few men and women of law enforcement who keep anarchy at bay by maintaining the law and order necessary for maintaining the civil society. To others, it is meant to symbolize self-sacrifice for the greater good.
But in the age of the Black Lives Matter movement, the phrase and graphic have been attacked by left-wing groups that strive to create anarchic conditions.
“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,” Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz told KTVZ, adding that he made the decision two weeks ago to remove the symbol.
“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,” he said, obviously siding with people who see the decal as a problem.
The reaction to the removal of the decal was mixed with some even viewing it with skepticism.
“I think it is a step forward, and it’s putting this conversation in the spotlight, which is a good move,” Bend resident Alex Burnett told KTVZ. “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.”
He described the move as a “people-pleasing tactic.”
“Removing themselves from that symbol, to me, shows they’re not wanting to make it an ‘us and them,’” Mikki Slaska, another Bend resident, told the outlet.
“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,” Slaka added. “Because it no longer stands for what it used to.”
Kranz added: “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.”
By comparison, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Department, which encompasses Bend, has no plans to remove thin blue line imagery from patrol vehicles.
“DCSO is not removing them,” Lt. William Bailey told KTVZ.
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