Debate over 'Thin Blue Line' image on Mount Prospect police patch rages on

The debate over the "Thin Blue Line" symbol on Mount Prospect's police patch continues, as village officials on Tuesday listened to nearly two hours of arguments from residents for and against the imagery.

Developed in 2017, the patch displays an outline of the state of Illinois with a star marking the village's location, along with the year of incorporation, 1917. In the background is a black-and-white American flag with a thin blue line.

Its defenders say the flag honors officers who made the ultimate sacrifice.

But residents demanding its removal say the imagery has been co-opted by white supremacists and other extremist groups, including those who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

"It is time for Mount Prospect to accept these facts and to not dodge them," resident Ken Brey said Tuesday.

Trustee Paul Hoefert, who is running for mayor, suggested the village take the opportunity to hire an independent third party to review all symbols and logos used in the village to understand if any may be inadvertently insensitive.

"I think, today, to an increasing degree, symbols are taking the place of words in our communication. Words and symbols can hurt," he said.

Trustee Colleen Saccotelli, who's also a mayoral hopeful, said Mount Prospect should consider an equity, diversity and inclusion audit like that being conducted in Arlington Heights.

"One cannot have lived through 2020 and not borne witness to the horrible tragedies that have happened to people of color at the hand of some bad police actors," she said.

Mount Prospect police officer Mark Bechtold, a 23-year veteran of the force who was raised in the village, defended the symbol Tuesday. The answer is not to do away with the symbol but to reclaim its original purpose, he said.

"I am in favor of retaining the blue line patch as a constant reminder to all who wear it (of) our sacred duty to maintain the order promised to all by our United States Constitution," he said.

But resident Julia Narain said the patch puts people of color ill at ease and heightens a sense of mistrust.

"(The) community is becoming increasingly aware that the village's uncompassionate and uncompromising stance on this issue is more than simply an oversight, and it leaves us wondering, 'Do we matter in Mount Prospect?'" she said.

Mount Prospect faces renewed calls to remove thin blue line flag from police patch

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