A Wisconsin police department has decided to remove “In God We Trust” from its police cars out of legal fears, despite the fact that departments around the country are adopting the practice.
A newly discovered series of Facebook posts from last month revealed that Prescott Police Chief Gary Krutke begrudgingly agreed to remove the motto from police vehicles after the mayor asked him too. Krutke apparently ranted on Facebook about the decision before getting in an argument in the comments section with the local district attorney, Forum News Service reports.
“I don’t know about you but as far as I see it if it is good enough and not so offensive as to be on the money that we spend everyday then it should not be so offensive that WE can’t/shouldn’t have these words on OUR squad cars,” Krutke said in a Facebook post that is no longer posted.
Many local residents are upset with the decision. The mayor reportedly asked that the labels be removed only a few days after they were put on because of legal concerns.
The department removed the labels despite recent reports suggesting that it is acceptable. The Freedom From Religion Foundation has sent letters to police departments across the country complaining about the practice, but because “In God We Trust” is the national motto, a legal argument against it is difficult.
A Texas Sheriff said last week he would begin adding the motto to his deputies’ vehicles on a voluntary basis. That decision, however, was made after a previous decision by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who said last year the motto was permissible.
“A court is likely to conclude that a law enforcement department’s display of the national motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ on its patrol vehicles is permissible under the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution,” Paxton told Texas State Sen. Charles Perry in a letter on the subject.
The police department for the town of Princeton, W.V., adopted the motto for their vehicles last week as well.
“Everyone has their opinion and this is our opinion,” Princeton Chief of Police John Howell told the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. “The one way I look at it is that police officers are looked to as guardians and we feel like that there is an ultimate guardian.”
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