The police department in Bend, Oregon, announced that the blue line on its patrol vehicles is being removed — and the move is happening due to how the Thin Blue Line symbol has been interpreted.
What are the details?
“The ‘Thin Blue Line’ has meant many things over the decades,” the department said in a Facebook
post Thursday. “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 post added that “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.”
Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz told KTVZ-TV Thursday that the blue line originally was intended as a blue horizon behind the mountain graphics on the patrol cars, but due to nationwide backlash against all things Thin Blue Line-related, negative interpretations abounded.
“The intent of the blue line with the black background is, of course, for current law enforcement … the memorial, the ultimate sacrifice of giving your life and service of your community,” Krantz told the station.
The police chief noted to KTVZ that he made the decision to remove the blue vinyl decals two weeks ago.
“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,” Krantz added to the station.
Patrol cars for the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office — Bend is located in Deschutes County — display a horizontal blue line across the back, and a few of the officers’ vehicles show the black-and-white Thin Blue Line American flag, KTVZ said.
But Lt. William Bailey told the station that the sheriff’s office “is not removing them.”
Bend isn’t the first police department to crack down on the Thin Blue Line:
Even more recently, an Ohio nonprofit awarded a scholarship to two high school football players who were suspended from school after carrying a Thin Blue Line flag and a Thin Red Line flag before a Sept. 11 game.
And football players at a Florida high school were banned from running onto the field before games carrying a Thin Blue Line flag after complaints that the flag was racist and fears from school administrators that it was viewed as a political statement.