The Laguna Beach Police Department was proud to unveil their patrol cars’ new design, hoping to give their cruisers a much-needed facelift. However, as soon as people saw the design, they immediately demanded the department change it because it’s “a symbol of racism” toward immigrants.
More police officers are dying in the line of duty each year, making the job even more dangerous and difficult. Along with the anti-police narrative that the media exacerbate, this has contributed to a decrease in new hires, leaving departments desperate to recruit officers.
With all the major issues facing departments across the United States, something as trivial as the look of their patrol cars shouldn’t be any concern to the public. However, that’s exactly what has some California residents up in arms, forcing local police to focus on the aesthetics of their vehicles instead of the crimes plaguing the community.
When the Laguna Beach Police Department unveiled their new and improved design on their cruisers, they never expected to receive any backlash. The Los Angeles Times reports that the department is in hot water with the Laguna Beach City Council for the lettering on the patrol car doors, which features “POLICE” in American flag print. In fact, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow admitted that some people have found the print to be racist.
“Some of the words people used was that they felt it was threatening, intimidating, harassing and a symbol of racism,” Dicterow said.
According to certain residents, having the American flag on the patrol cars is a direct threat toward “immigrants and visitors” and is “too aggressive.” Dicterow said the council has agreed to reconsider allowing the department to keep the design that is currently featured on 11 patrol cars.
“Clearly, the way it looks on the car is not what anyone expected it to look like,” Dicterow said. “I think it’s reasonable that we’re going to look at it again so that whatever we [approve] is exactly what we put on the car.”
However, many are stating what they believe to be the real issue with the new design — President Donald Trump. Attorney Jennifer Welsh Zeiter has questioned the motive of those who are demanding the print be taken off and replaced with something less American.
“They are so filled with hatred toward this … office of the president of the United States and the current occupant of that office,” she said, “that they cannot see through their current biases to realize that a police vehicle with the American flag is the ultimate American expression.”
Like Zieter, not everyone wants the print changed. In fact, local artist Carrie Woodburn received more than 150 calls, texts, and emails from people praising the American flag font. The messages came after she criticized the print at the city council meeting, saying it looked “aggressive.”
“I don’t really care too much about the design, other than what I said — it’s bad art,” Woodburn said. “I’m being attacked for that because the narrative feeds a fire of division, which is what our culture has become.”
Once the council proposed a more muted black-and-white version of the text, protesters gathered near the beach to show support for the patriotic design. Still, the council is considering replacing it with a “cloud-like look” to satisfy those opposed to the flag print.
“People are screaming that the American flag on a police car is somehow or another … hurting people’s feelings who might be immigrants or visitors,” said Councilman Peter Blake. “People are actually ridiculous enough to bring up comments about our cop cars having American flags on them.”
Perhaps the most compelling argument came from Emil Monda, president of the Laguna Beach Republicans. He explained that, despite the critics’ claims, the American flag doesn’t represent any political ideology but a nation of diverse yet united people.
“It’s the flag of the United States of America,” Monda said. “It’s not a Republican flag, it’s not a Democrat flag. It’s our flag, and we can’t lose that.”
Although the council claims that there has been a flood of complaints concerning the American flag design, the Laguna Beach Police explained that they haven’t received any negative comments. In fact, they say that the reactions have all been positive.
“Every time I came to a stop sign, every time I came to a red light, somebody is telling me the car looks great,” Laguna Beach Police Cpl. Ryan Hotchkiss said at the March meeting. “Every one of our members that drives the car loves it, and we look forward to keeping them the way they are.”
It’s disturbing that our nation’s flag is being portrayed by some as a symbol of racism and hate when it is simply the penultimate example of our country’s identity. That identity has nothing to do with skin color, class, or even political bias, but represents the unification of the people under one set of values. If we can’t agree on that, there is little hope left for our country.