HomeNewsOregon Police Remove Thin Blue Line on Patrol Cruisers, Calling the Symbol ‘Divisive’

Oregon Police Remove Thin Blue Line on Patrol Cruisers, Calling the Symbol ‘Divisive’

by Chris Haney
Photo by Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

A police department in Oregon announced it is removing the “thin blue line” graphic on patrol cars because the symbol has become “divisive” in recent times.

The City of Bend Police Department said it will take the decal off of 29 of the department’s patrol cars. The decision follows nationwide protests against racial inequality and criticism of law enforcement. The department posted a statement on its Facebook account about the situation.

“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 Facebook post read.

“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 statement 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”

“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,” the department said. “Our goal is to have a symbol created that blends seamlessly with our existing mountain graphics.”


More Details on the Oregon Police Department’s Decision

Traditionally, the ‘thin blue line’ refers to the concept that authorities hold the line that separates order from unrest. However, in recent months the symbol has been used at times to counter anti-racism and Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz told KTVZ that the blue line on their vehicles were originally supposed 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,” Krantz said.

But recently, the graphic took on a different interpretation among residents. Krantz said there is a responsibility to make sure the community feels connected.

“Some community members view it as an important piece on our cars,” Krantz said. “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.”

Additionally, Krantz said the removal of the decal does not diminish community members who care to support law enforcement.

Reactions From Oregon Locals On the Decision

Alex Burnett, a Bend resident, said he agreed with the police department’s decision. But, he also stated it may 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,” said Burnett. “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.”

Likewise, another local resident Mikki Slaska shared similar thoughts on the situation. Slaska added that the move may come off as a controversial one.

“Removing themselves from that symbol, to me, shows they’re not wanting to make it an ‘us and them,'” said Slaska. “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. Because it no longer stands for what it used to.”

Krantz said that he has heard arguments on both sides of the aisle. But, it is not just about certain individual groups in the community. 

“My job is to bring the community together with law enforcement,” says Krantz. “And anything that can be used as a division or divisive tool is to eliminate it, if we can.”

[H/T Daily Mail]