Bend, OR – The Bend Police Department (BPD) has stripped the Thin Blue Line graphics from its patrol fleet over concerns that the pro-police symbol has “unintentionally created an ongoing divide” between officers and the community.
The BPD announced in a Facebook post on Wednesday that it was in the process of removing the “divisive” decals.
“Our patrol vehicles are currently getting a makeover, by removing the blue line graphic on them,” the department confirmed in the post.
The agency noted that the Thin Blue Line “has meant many things over the decades.”
BPD Chief Mike Krantz told KTVZ that the graphics were designed with the intent of honoring law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.
“The intent of the blue line with the black background is, of course, for current law enforcement is the memorial, the ultimate sacrifice of giving your life and service of your community,” Chief Krantz explained.
The chief said he heard from residents who believed the Thin Blue Line decals were very important and should remain, but that he also heard from others who “view it as a barrier” between residents and officers, KTVZ reported.
He said he decided two weeks ago that the Thin Blue Line graphics needed to go.
“The divisive use of the thin blue line symbol to fit a narrative unassociated with our department or what we stand for, has unintentionally created an ongoing divide between some members of our community and the police officers who serve them,” the BPD said in its Facebook post on Wednesday.
“In the spirit of mending divide, being inclusive with the community we serve, and to continue to build trust within our entire community, our current and future vehicle graphics package will no longer contain a blue line,” the department added.
The BPD said it plans to figure out a way to create a new design that honors first responders “who have given their life in service” to the communities they serve.
Bend resident Mikki Slaska told KTVZ that the Thin Blue Line should not be appearing on police vehicles, regardless of the original intent of the symbol.
“Even if the symbol has been around longer than these protests have gone on, I think it’s been picked up by people for a different reason,” Slaska said. “It no longer stands for what it used to.”
Chief Krantz said that his goal is to “eliminate” anything that might be perceived as a “divisive tool,” KTVZ reported.
“My job is to bring the community together with law enforcement,” he said.