Santa Rosa, CA – The Santa Rosa police chief has issued a public apology for sharing a photo on the department’s Facebook page showing a Thin Blue Line flag banner that had been given to the officers as a gift.
Santa Rosa Police Chief Rainer Navarro said in a Facebook post on Tuesday that he posted the picture over the weekend to show the department’s appreciation for the citizens who took the time to make the banner for them.
“For many, the thin blue line flag has always represented a way to honor the commitment we make as first responders to protect our community,” Chief Navarro wrote.
But not everyone who saw the Thin Blue Line banner post agreed.
“While the post was intended to thank the community members who made the banner, and for the community at large for their continued support, it offended some who viewed it,” Chief Navarro wrote. “For this, I sincerely apologize.”
The chief immediately removed the photo featuring the citizens’ gift and rushed to Facebook to apologize to his critics.
“It is disappointing that in recent years, the thin blue line flag’s positive connotation has been tarnished with divisive undertones and actions,” he said. “We do not want to promote these negative connotations.”
He said he was swayed by those who found the post to be offensive.
“I saw and read the comments from members in our community and want you to know, you have been heard,” Chief Navarro said.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Sonoma County Chapter President Rubin Scott said it was especially egregious that the department posted the Thin Blue Line photo just before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, The Press Democrat reported.
“It’s one of those markers, for certain people in our community, that means stay in your place, and if you don’t, there will be retaliation for it,” Scott declared.
In addition to erasing the post, Chief Navarro assured the community that the Thin Blue Line banner has been removed from the Public Safety Building altogether.
“Images of the thin blue line flag will no longer be used in official police department communications including social media posts,” the chief promised.
Chief Navarro referred to the incident as a “mistake” and said he wants to foster a department that residents will be “proud of.”
“When we make mistakes, we acknowledge them, correct them when possible, and learn from them,” he said. “Thank you for working with us so we may continue to grow and improve to meet the highest standards of excellence.”
Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Rogers said he supported the removal of the pro-police post, and said officers should not be offended by Chief Navarro’s decision to remove a symbol which shows support for them, The Press Democrat reported.
Removing the post shouldn’t be scene as “diminishing the work they do,” Rogers said.