Mount Prospect mayor sees police patch debate nearing resolution
A resolution to the long-running controversy over the Mount Prospect's police uniform patch could come soon, Mayor Paul Hoefert said.
Hoefert told a packed house at village hall Tuesday that he and village trustees will meet as a committee, probably early next month, to discuss the patch and how to settle the fierce debate over its "thin blue line" imagery.
"This is going to come to resolution at some point," he said. "It is going to come to a resolution, because it's not good for our community as a whole to have this ongoing."
Hoefert's remarks came after he and fellow village board members listened to about 90 minutes of public comment about the patch debate, which went national last month after three police officers appeared on Fox News to discuss the issue. Residents weighed in on both sides Tuesday, some holding signs or wearing shirts displaying their stance on controversy.
In use since 2018, the police patch has been a source of contention since last year when some residents said its thin blue line imagery had been co-opted by extremist groups and is offensive as a result. Police leaders and supporters defend the patch, saying the thin blue line is meant to honor law enforcement officers who've lost their lives in the line of duty.
Hoefert said the final decision remains in the hands of Village Manager Michael Cassady. But Cassady said if a majority of the board wants the patch removed, "then I would accept that direction."
Trustee Peggy Pissarreck is among the board members calling for a change, saying Tuesday that "multiple residents of color" have expressed concern about the patch.
"Since their perception is their reality, I stand with them and believe wholeheartedly that the patch should be redesigned and a process should be put in place to incorporate resident input," she said.
Pissarreck suggested flying a "thin blue line mourning flag" outside police headquarters to honor police officers killed on duty.
Trustee John Matuszak called for the removal of all political symbols from village platforms.
Resident Mark Sawalski spoke out in favor of the patch, saying he flies a thin blue line flag outside his home to honor friends and family in law enforcement.
"It was never intended to represent white supremacy. It was never intended to represent hate. It was to represent those who have given the ultimate sacrifice," he said.
Others, however, called on police to choose a symbol the entire community would embrace.
"This is not a time to go backwards where black and brown people have to be fearful of the interactions with law enforcement," said Demeterius Gibson. "The (Mount Prospect Police Department) has the power to change the narrative. The MPPD has the power to make our tomorrow a better and more inclusive experience."