Cleveland, OH – The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has told the family of a Cleveland police officer who was killed in the line of duty that they have to take down the Thin Blue Line flag displayed beneath his memorial sign on the highway where he was killed.
Cleveland Police Officer David Fahey, Jr. was killed at about 5:40 a.m. on Jan. 24, 2017 while he assisting at a fatal crash involving a fire truck and a van on Interstate 90, the Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP) reported.
Officer Fahey, 39, was putting out flares when he was hit by an oncoming car.
The car the struck him did not stop and the brave officer died.
The driver who hit him – identified as Israel Alvarez – was arrested the same day and later sentenced to 12 years in prison for killing Officer Fahey, Cleveland.com reported.
The judge also ordered Alvarez to never drive again.
Officer Fahey was a U.S. Navy veteran who had been a member of the Cleveland Division of Police for two-and-a-half years when he was killed in the line of duty, according to ODMP.
ODOT erected a memorial sign near the W. 117th Street exit on I-90 honoring Officer Fahey at the direction of the state legislature, WOIO reported.
“Officer David Fahey Memorial Highway,” the sign read.
Friends and family of the fallen hero have continued to hold annual memorial events in memory of Officer Fahey and mounted a wooden Thin Blue Line flag beneath the plain brown highway sign last year to replace the fabric flag that had previously flow there, WOIO reported.
In July of 2021, the state received a complaint about the Thin Blue Line sign.
Officer Fahey’s family was ordered to remove the sign and they complied in late summer last year, Cleveland.com reported.
But law enforcement supporters recently replaced the wooden sign with a fabric Thin Blue Line flag.
ODOT spokesman Brent Kovacs said the state didn’t know who had put the flag on the signposts but said that it was reaching out to the family of Officer Fahey to have it removed, Cleveland.com reported.
The transportation department released a statement that implied the most recent complaint about the memorial sign came from local news outlets, WOIO reported.
“On May 23rd, Cleveland.com/ Plain Dealer reached out to ODOT about a flag attached to the Officer Fahey Memorial along I-90,” the statement read. “Cleveland.com/Plain Dealer asked when the flag would be removed. Because of this complaint, ODOT has contacted Officer Fahey’s family and asked that it be removed. ODOT trusts the family will remove the flag in the near future and considers this issue closed.”
ODOT said all signs posted on state property must be pre-approved, WOIO reported.
“There are no exceptions to the rule,” ODOT Public Information Officer Isaac Hunt said.
Officer Fahey’s family is devastated by the latest request to take down the Thin Blue Line flag, WOIO reported.
“It is personal because if you drive along the highways, you see your political signs, you’ll see your other special interest signs that are up along the highway. Those are still there,” Officer Fahey’s mother, Jackie Ketterer, said.
“The loss of a child is devastating and unless you’ve been in my shoes – and there are plenty of people who have – you’ll never understand,” Ketterer explained.
She said she feels targeted by anti-police activists, WOIO reported.
“I’m very upset because I feel betrayed by the public and the community that my son served because they’re taking one or two persons’ personal objective and using it to take this flag down,” the mother said.