A Wisconsin police dept. is removing “Thin Blue Line” imagery from vehicle

Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 7:17 AM CDT
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VIROQUA, Wis. (WEAU) - After concerns were raised by community members, the Viroqua Police Department will be removing a specific symbol from one of its vehicles.

Viroqua Mayor Karen Mischel says the department designed a new vehicle to replace one that was totaled in an accident, and included an emblem of a black and white American Flag with a blue line.

The “Thin Blue Line” imagery is often associated with the support of police officers, but it has been taken as a less positive image by some.

“I started to get people reaching out to me, questioning whether that is appropriate for a city-owned vehicle to have the ‘Thin Blue Line’ because of the way that symbol has been co-opted and now used in many, very racist and inappropriate ways,” Mischel explained.

Subsequent conversations between Mischel, Police Chief Rick Niedfeldt, and the City’s Diversity Board lead to the department removing the image from the vehicle.

Even though the conversation around the “Thin Blue Line” decal started at City Hall, Mischel assures that does not mean the City shows a lack of support for the Police Department.

“We did just complete a new, over $2 million facility, and we approved adding an additional full-time officer,” Mischel explained. “I think that’s what makes it so hard, even in this discussion, to hear police officers feel like this puts them in a hard place, and the fact that I pushed this conversation to happen feels like they’re not being supported, but if you look at what the City has done in the last couple years, I would say that our voting record would show otherwise.”

Chief Niedfeldt could not be reached for comment but said in a statement:

“Our office recognizes the different emotions that this symbol has brought to members of our community, and we want to make sure we are following our Mission Statement and Core Values as a department. My Officers and I appreciate the support we have received recently. It is our hope that this decision will help build trust and optimism within the community, with a goal of shared success.”

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