Fla. sheriff's office bans 'thin blue line' logo

In an email, staff and officers were told they were prohibited from wearing the logo on any uniforms or agency-issued equipment


Lee Williams
Herald Tribune

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. — Sarasota County Sheriff’s Capt. Ryan Brown told his staff in an email sent Thursday that they are “in unique times right now” and that they should “always maintain their professionalism.”

Law enforcement is under intense scrutiny because of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, an act that sparked protests across the country and around the world.

In his email, Brown, who commands the sheriff’s patrol bureau, told his 400 or so deputies that they are now prohibited from wearing the “thin blue line” logo while on duty.

Many in law enforcement view themselves as members of the “thin blue line,” which they believe stands between civilized society and anarchy.

In his email, Brown said the meaning of the logo has changed.

″‘The thin blue line’ has now been associated, by some, with a stigma of protecting each other from getting into trouble, from creating an us vs. them philosophy, etc.,” he wrote.

  
  

As a result, Brown doesn’t want to see the logo in the workplace.

“Make sure our personnel are not representing this on any agency-issued equipment, vehicle, uniforms, etc.,” he wrote. “It’s a good opportunity to complete inspections and ensure all our personnel are representing the agency as we should.”

In an interview with the Herald-Tribune Friday, Brown said the issue is not about the logo. It’s about uniformity.

“We need to make sure our agency personnel — make sure their uniforms are consistent with what they are issued by our quartermaster,” he said. “The thought is, it’s not about the ‘thin blue line,’ it’s about making sure their uniforms are consistent and agency-issued.

“I can’t put a Florida Gator bumper sticker or a ‘thin blue line’ bumper sticker on my (patrol) car,” he said.

Brown would not say what the logo means to him, but added that “it means a lot to a lot of folks in law enforcement, but the message is to be consistent with the uniform and to wear what is issued.”

His order does not affect what deputies wear off duty, Brown said, adding that the genesis of his email came from a patch.

“It was brought to my attention that possibly somebody had a patch. That’s the bottom line,” Brown said. “They had a patch somewhere on their uniform. I know that symbol is under attack by some, but if it’s not agency issue, why are we wearing it? It’s a matter of sticking to policy.”

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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