‘Thin blue line’ flag taken down outside of police department after complaints
‘I am aware that the symbolism of thin blue line flags is viewed differently by many’ – Chief Ty Lewis
–The Paso Robles Police Department released a statement on Thursday in regards to the removal of a flag that was placed at the police station by members of the community. It was a “thin blue line” flag along with various other blue-line-themed adornments.
Paso Robles Police Chief Ty Lewis posted the following on the Paso Robles Police Department Facebook page:
Paso Robles Community Members,
I am aware of a controversy surrounding a “Thin Blue Line” flag displayed near the Public Safety Center (PSC) this past weekend. Various community members attached the flag to a light post near the corner of 10th and Park Streets. Additionally, in a display of police support, American flags, blue ribbons, and other decorations were also affixed to gates, light poles, and other public property surrounding the PSC.
Shortly after the flag was installed, I was forwarded a complaint sent to City Hall by a concerned citizen about the flag. The complaint cited concerns the flag was controversial and divisive and requested the flag be immediately removed.
I am aware that the symbolism of thin blue line flags is viewed differently by many. Some view it as a symbol of law enforcement support, while others view it as a racist and divisive symbol. I leave it to each community member to research this controversial topic and form their own opinions. With that said, in an attempt to avoid any controversy and preserve public trust, I ordered the flag be removed from the light pole.
Unfortunately, the controversy did not stop with the removal of the flag. I am now aware of community conversations on this matter primarily occurring on social media. There are rumors the flag was stolen by a community member and this rumor is not true – I am solely responsible for the removal of the flag. Further, there have been many unproductive and negative conversations on social media about this community member that included veiled threats. I humbly request these unproductive accusations and threats stop immediately.
Such conversations do not promote community trust and have distracted the police department from of our mission to preserve public peace and safety.
The controversy attracted media attention outside of San Luis Obispo County. A Central Valley station, FOX26, posted a story about the incident and asked their audience to weigh in. Read the story here.