SOLON, Ohio — On Friday, the Solon Police Department raised a flag with the original design of the "Thin Blue Line" at its station after removing the version styled as the American flag earlier in the week due to community concerns.
The flag raised on Friday features a single blue line on a solid black background.
Earlier this week, the department removed an altered version that featured a black American Flag with a blue line on it at the behest of Solon Mayor Edward H. Kraus.
Kraus said he asked the department to remove the modified version as a "way of mitigating the unfortunate negative connotation that has been ascribed to that specific design."
The mayor said he had a discussion with the department's police chief, Richard Tonelli, about a way to honor police without the stigma attached to the altered version of the flag.
"We agree the raising of a flag in honor of the dedicated men and women who serve in our law enforcement is not only long overdue, but is necessary to shed light on the care and work our police do for the citizens of Solon," the mayor said.
He continued, "Over the last few years, our officers have taken more and more guns off the streets; officer pursuits have risen, with Solon officers engaging in dangerous and necessary steps to ensure the safety of our community; and our brave men and women in blue are tasked with stopping violent crime, putting their own lives on the line. Our officers make up the most diverse department in the city, representing and promoting the level of inclusion and equity all communities should champion. They do so in a manner that is professional, respectful and purposeful. Their duty is essential and their commitment to all our citizens is unrivaled."
On Tuesday, the mayor stated the department was looking into a way to honor police officers and those who gave their lives in the line of duty. At that time, the mayor said it would replace the altered flag with the National Law Enforcement Memorial flag, which is a blue badge with a red rose on it.
Since then, the mayor selected the unaltered Thin Blue Line flag.
"I appreciate Chief Tonelli’s initial intent behind raising the flag. I support the message behind the action, and I join all who support that intent," Kraus said. "However, I believe that intent and message are better conveyed by the original Thin Blue Line flag, a solid black background with the thin blue line adorned across it. This design has a decades-long tradition of representing the men and women in blue who stand between law and chaos and who have paid the ultimate sacrifice."
The mayor said he spoke with members of the Alliance of Black Families and other community leaders about the symbolism of what the flags represent.
"I understand this topic is emotional for many of us, and I encourage growing dialogue that seeks to sow the seeds of empathy and knowledge. Displaying the original Thin Blue Line flag is a measure that embodies the respect, admiration and support the heroic men and women of law enforcement deserve and have earned. But it is just one act," Kraus said. "To truly embrace the spirit of the flag, we must put these ideals into action. This means being good citizens, respecting our neighbors and being kind to all those around us. I believe in the Thin Blue Line. I support this original Thin Blue Line flag and I support all this flag represents. It is a symbol of how a few brave men and women put everything on the line to make the world a better place."
You can read the mayor's full statement here.
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