Albuquerque, NM – An Albuquerque police officer was forced to remove a blue-line flag decal from a department-issued patrol car, after a citizen complained.
The citizen who complained claimed that it violated the U.S. Flag Code.
However, despite similarity to the U.S. flag, the pro-police flag is considered an entirely different flag, and does not violate flag code by altering the U.S. flag.
Despite this, posting stickers or license plates on patrol vehicles is a violation of the Albuquerque Police Department’s policy, unless they are specifically approved by the chief of police, department spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos told KRQE.
"We want uniformity among police cars, just kind of neutral and we don't want the chief to have to be deciding what kind of expression is appropriate or not," Gallegos explained. "They're not allowed to personalize their cars in any way.”
The officer was forced to remove the sticker following an investigation by the Civilian Police Oversight Agency (CPOA).
"First of all, I think this officer wasn't intending to, you know, mean any disrespect toward anyone,” Gallegos noted. “Every officer I know deeply respects the flag. And they're very proud of what it stands for.”
It was unclear what discipline may have resulted as a result of the decal.
Gallegos said the department is not actively searching for violations of the policy, but that they will address potential violations if a complaint is received from the public.
Several Albuquerque police cars currently have a wide variety of decals and plates, including blue-line flags, U.S. flags, collegiate plates, and military-related plates and decals, KRQE reported.
Earlier in 2018, another officer was forced to remove a “Don’t Tread on Me” license plate from the front of a patrol car because a citizen complained that it was an offensive reference to the Tea Party.
"That was an example of where it was inappropriate and definitely could be offensive and was offensive to some people," Gallegos told KRQE.