The Police Chief of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has banned officers from using any “Thin Blue Line” imagery while on duty because it has been associated with “hateful ideologies,” the Associated Press reported Friday.
Chief Kristen Roman reportedly banned the imagery after criticism on social media over a Blue Lives Matter flag that was being displayed at the police department. Student activists called for the flag to be removed saying the police department was effectively endorsing white supremacy, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
We broke up a theft ring this weekend that clearly had a faulty exit strategy.
This is what happens when you and your roommate attempt to “collect” an exit sign from each residence hall over the last two nights.
Please don’t steal exit signs. Or anything. pic.twitter.com/vPPSvVDhTH
— UW-Madison Police (@UWMadisonPolice) November 15, 2020
The flag displayed is considered to be a sign of solidarity with police, but recently has been criticized, the Associated Press reported.
Roman said in a statement that the flag was “co-opted” by extremists and that her department needs to distance itself from these “hateful ideologies,” according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
In an email to officers on Jan. 14 Roman said, “We must consider the cost of clinging to a symbol that is undeniably and inextricably linked to actions and beliefs antithetical to UWPD’s values.”
Roman reportedly also defended the flag and its original intentions. She said that the flag was originally meant to symbolize the police’s commitment to their duty and community and protecting “society from chaos.” (RELATED: Poll: Majority Of Americans Say There Is A War On Police, Support ‘Blue Lives Matter’ Laws)
“I understand that this decision may cause emotional responses, even anger from some. I, too, feel hurt and disappointed as we confront our current reality. I know this is hard. I know this issue is complicated,” Roman said in the same email.
She acknowledges that the symbol has recently been used to “dishonor the police profession.”
“At the end of the day, we have dedicated ourselves to a profession that demands service above self. As such, relevant community concerns, perceptions, and fears necessarily outweigh our shared professional investment in a symbol that presently separates and alienates us from those we have promised to serve.”
This ban not only includes the type of flag that was seen on the social media post, but also bracelets, pins, notebooks, coffee mugs and other physical items. The only exceptions are visible tattoos and flags flown at funerals for officers who died in the line of duty.