University Police Chief Kristen Roman has banned the display of “Thin Blue Line” imagery following Jan. 6’s insurrection at the Capitol in which extremists waved Thin Blue Line flags, effective immediately.
“At the end of the day, we have dedicated ourselves to a profession that demands service above self,” Roman wrote. “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.”
The ban includes flags, pins, bracelets, notebooks, coffee mugs and decals, in addition to requiring employees to receive approval from Roman before displaying the symbol at line-of-duty death observances. Visible tattoos that include the thin blue line are not required to be covered.
The policy was first announced in an internal memo, which was leaked to conservative news site Wisconsin Right Now and later published on LawOfficer.com. In an email correspondence with Wisconsin Right Now, contributor Jessica McBride held that they received the email via news tip, but that it was not stated as being from a department officer or employee.
As the memo circulated online, some individuals were displeased with Roman’s decision and began spamming a UWPD Facebook post featuring the Bernie Inauguration meme, commenting with pictures and gifs of the Thin Blue Line flag and Punisher logo.
“She must be a special kind of a**hole to ban the thin blue line,” one user wrote. “This is what happens when Karens are promoted.”
The department publicly posted the memo Tuesday afternoon to their website, declaring their commitment to “an ongoing discussion about the imagery.” The post referenced the first time the UWPD came under fire regarding the symbol after a Thin Blue Line decal was seen in the background of a photo posted on Twitter.
At the time, Roman elected to keep the decal, which had been donated to the department, on display in their offices.
“The ‘thin blue line’ phrase and associated imagery date back decades. To many within and outside of the police profession, it symbolizes a commitment to public service and the countless selfless sacrifices willingly made to honor that commitment,” she wrote.
In the recently released memo, Roman has officially rescinded that decision to remain associated with the symbol, citing “the weight of the national and local narratives that dominate the headlines depicting all police as white supremacists” and the insurrection at the Capitol building that killed U.S. Capitol police officer Brian D. Sicknick.
Communications Director Marc Lovicott could not confirm what has become of the decal that was displayed in the department’s November tweet, but pointed to the Chief’s statement reiterating that all displays of the symbol have simply been removed.
Lovicott stated to Wisconsin Right Now that the new policy was not a formal one, but a “temporary directive.”
He did not respond to emails questioning how long the temporary policy would be in place.