PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Since the Los Angeles Police Department announced a ban on displaying the “thin blue line” flag at public events and in station lobbies, many people outside of Los Angeles have questioned whether their local police would be making the same decision.
The “thin blue line” flag’s design is similar to that of the American flag, except its stars and stripes are mostly black and white — not including the bright blue line placed in the middle. Some groups believe the flag shows support for police officers and other law enforcement; others perceive it as a symbol of far-right extremism in the U.S.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore issued a ban on the flag on Saturday, Jan. 21. In Moore’s statement to local media outlets, he said that he doesn’t view the flag in the same negative light as others, but he does believe that it can be divisive.
The chief’s decision has been polarizing among those in and outside of law enforcement, so KOIN 6 News asked local police departments what their own flag policies were and what they believe the flag represents.
According to Vancouver Police Department’s Public Affairs Manager Kim Kapp, no ‘thin blue line’ symbol or icon can be displayed on VPD’s property, which includes buildings, uniforms and vehicles. Information on when the ban was established hasn’t been confirmed.
“We understand that the symbol has been co-opted [by] some groups/individuals to perpetuate racism and division and our duty is to foster trust with the community we serve and members of our community have expressed that this symbol is an extension of oppression and hate so we do not allow this symbol in our agency,” Kapp said.
For Portlanders, LAPD’s recent ban on the flag isn’t the first time its symbolism has been critiqued. In May 2021, former City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty denounced a city contractor who displayed a “thin blue line” sticker on his truck while working. Hardesty said that she was one of the many Portlanders who found the imagery “deeply offensive.”
Nonetheless, the Portland Police Bureau said they don’t have a comment on LAPD’s ban.
“We’re not interested in discussing the LAPD issue,” PPB spokesperson Sgt. Kevin Allen said. “I’m not aware of any of those symbols being displayed in PPB areas open to the public, and I have not heard about any plans to implement rules addressing that specifically.”