Mount Prospect, IL – The police vowed to continue to honor fallen officers even after the Mount Prospect village board voted 4 to 3 on Tuesday night to remove the Thin Blue Line from its police department’s patch.
“They can tear our patch off our arm, but they will never take what’s in our heart,” Mount Prospect Police Chief John Koziol told the Daily Herald. “The men and women of the Mount Prospect Police Department will always honor our fallen brothers and sisters in law enforcement.”
The Mount Prospect Police Department (MPPD) incorporated the Thin Blue Line image into the Mount Prospect police patch in 2017 as a sign of respect for fallen officers.
Some community members complained about the presence of the image on the Mount Prospect police patch, so the village board held a public meeting to discuss it, Journal & Topics reported.
Critics incorrectly claimed the Thin Blue Line image represented white supremacy and hate.
In June, a school resource officer was dismissed by the local school district after she spoke in support of keeping the Thin Blue Line image on the Mount Prospect Police Department’s patch, FOX News reported.
Mount Prospect Police Officer Lisa Schaps was a school resource officer at Prospect High School when she spoke at a village board meeting on June 15.
Officer Schaps, a 15-year veteran of the police force, appeared at the public meeting and told the village board that when she sees a Thin Blue Line flag in the community “it is about support. I know that those people care about the police.”
She said the incorporation of the Thin Blue Line into the police patch “was never about hate. It was never about oppression.”
“That is never what it meant, and those were never our intentions,” Officer Schaps said.
The officer asked the community not to judge Mount Prospect police on officers elsewhere, Journal & Topics reported.
“We are good people,” she told the board. “We are here to serve and protect, and I think that if you judge us on the actions of a few bad officers or groups that have taken our flag and used that, it is no different than judging somebody on the color of their skin, on their religion, or on their sexual preferences.”
“The way that we have seen people of color be treated by police officers, if you think that that doesn’t enrage us and anger us, then you are wrong, because the men and women here in Mount Prospect do not treat our citizens that way,” Officer Schaps continued.
And it was exactly that statement that got the officer called into the principal’s office on June 24, FOX News reported.
“They had mentioned that I compared being a police officer to being black when I really didn’t say that,” Officer Schaps explained. “I said, ‘Please don’t judge us like you would judge somebody on the color of their skin or their religion or their sexual preference.’”
She said Prospect High School Principal Greg Minter and the school district told her that her comments had become a distraction and they had received complaints from parents, FOX News reported.
Mount Prospect Police Chief John Koziol told FOX News he was shocked by Officer Schaps dismissal from the school.
Chief Koziol said he attended the meeting with the principal to support Officer Schaps and told the school administrator he should refer any complaints about school resource officers to the police department.
But he told FOX News Minter wasn’t having it and said “We want a new SRO, and we want Lisa gone.”
Chief Koziol said he thought the school had made a terrible decision and said that Officer Schaps was a popular and effective asset on campus.
The village board convened a meeting to discuss and vote on whether to keep the Thin Blue Line in the Mount Prospect police patch on Aug. 10, the Daily Herald reported.
A large group of community members supporting both sides of the issue rallied outside the building, according to the Daily Herald.
Chief Koziol opened the meeting by voicing his support for keeping the police memorial symbol on the Mount Pleasant police patch.
“To say that this flag is a symbol of hate is a slap in the face to all law enforcement officers and their loved ones that look upon this symbol with reverence,” the police chief told the board.
He was asked why the department hadn’t chosen a symbol that hadn’t been used to promote racism in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Chief Koziol said he wasn’t chief when the patch was created but officers voted 2 to 1 in favor of it at the time, the Daily Herald reported.
“What I don’t get is why we let one racist hater [in Charlottesville] change the meaning of something that means so much to us?” he continued. “If you start letting those people do that, they have taken over.”
“Well, Hitler did that,” Mount Pleasant Trustee Peggy Pissarreck replied.
But some trustees fought to keep the patch as it is, the Daily Herald reported.
“There is a group that have a political agenda to defund the police or corrupt our criminal justice system,” Mount Pleasant Trustee Richard Rogers said. “There is no place in Mount Prospect for partisan politics.”
“This board is here to govern the village of Mount Prospect,” Rogers continued. “It is not here to make political statements. It is not here to support cancel culture.”
Former Mount Pleasant Trustee William Grossi agreed, the Daily Herald reported.
“It is not a racist symbol and has never been talked about in those terms except by a small group of individuals,” Grossi said.
Trustees ultimately voted to remove the offending image from the Mount Pleasant police patch, the Daily Herald reported.
Thin Blue Line opponents were pleased with the trustees’ vote.
“The current police officer patch needs to be immediately removed and a redesign of the patch needs to display a symbol that all Mount Prospect minority and majority residents support,” Mount Prospect resident Linda Waycie told the Daily Herald.