Civics: UW-Madison Police Chief Kristen Roman bans use of ‘thin blue line’ flag

Emily Hamer:

After backlash from a November social media photo that showed a “thin blue line” flag displayed in the UW-Madison Police Department’s office, Police Chief Kristen Roman has banned officers from using thin blue line imagery while acting in an official police capacity.

Some see the controversial flag as a symbol of solidarity with police, but it has also been flown by white supremacists, including those who stormed the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 in an attempt to overturn the legitimate election defeat of former President Donald Trump. Five people, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer, died in the riot.

In an email to UW-Madison Police staff that was released Tuesday, Roman said the flag has been “co-opted” by extremists with “hateful ideologies.” She said her department needs to distance itself from thin blue line imagery to build trust with the community.

“We must consider the cost of clinging to a symbol that is undeniably and inextricably linked to actions and beliefs antithetical to UWPD’s values,” she said in the Jan. 15 email.