The University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Chief Kristen Roman has banned officers from using the ‘thin blue line’ flag while operating in any official police capacity, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Roman sent an email to her staff claiming extremists with “hateful ideologies” have “co-opted” the flag. She claimed outlawing the flag would be a good initial step to continue building 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,” Roman said in the email according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Roman said the only exception to the flag ban is if an officer has it tattooed on his or her body. All other public displays of the flag are prohibited.
This decision comes after the department posted a photo on Twitter on Nov. 15 displaying the “Blue Lives Matter” flag on the wall behind them.
The photo garnered criticism from UW-Madison student activists, according to Madison365. This photo helped to embolden students to clamor for the removal of the entire police from campus.
Roman’s statement addressing the criticism attempted to explain the flag’s meaning and importance to members of the police.
“To many within and outside of the police profession, [the flag] symbolizes a commitment to public service and the countless selfless sacrifices willingly made to honor that commitment, up to and including laying down one’s own life to protect the lives of others,” Roman said in the statement.
However, she did condemn any use of the flag when people try to “denote support of white supremacist ideologies, shirk police accountability, or otherwise dishonor the police profession.”
“We unequivocally condemn any usage or depiction of this imagery intended to defend hate or to attempt to invalidate social justice movements advocating for meaningful police reform,” Roman said. “Second, the values of UWPD, in spirit and practice, continue to be rooted in notions of fairness, partnership, and service to our campus community.”
In a stark contrast to this statement, Roman has unequivocally banned the use of the flag, presumably in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 Capitol building riots.
“I understand that this decision may cause emotional responses, even anger from some,” Roman said. “I, too, feel hurt and disappointed as we confront our current reality. I know this is hard. I know this issue is complicated.”