Speaking to NewsChannel 21on Thursday, Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz said that the thin blue line on the patrol cars was originally planned as a blue horizon behind the mountain, but in light of recent events, the original meaning is receiving different interpretations.
"The intent of the blue line with the black background is, of course, for current law enforcement is the memorial, the ultimate sacrifice of giving your life and service of your community," he said.
Krantz made the decision to remove the decals two weeks ago.
"Some community members view it as an important piece on our cars, others view it as a barrier between the police and the community, so it’s my role to evaluate that and look at how we can best serve the entire community," Krantz added.
Alex Burnett, a Bend resident, stated that he was happy with the decision, but called it a "people-pleasing" tactic.
“I think it is a step forward, and it’s putting this conversation in the spotlight, which is a good move," he said. "But I’d be interested to see what they actually have to say about it, because actions speak louder than words -- but at this point this is just words.”
Mikki Slaska, another resident, said: "Removing themselves from that symbol, to me, shows they’re not wanting to make it an 'us and them.'”
She added that she understood why the decision to remove the decal was controversial.
“Even if the symbol has been around longer than these protests have gone on, I think it’s been picked up by people for a different reason, and that seems like why they would take it away," she said. "Because it no longer stands for what it used to.”
Krantz maintained that the decision to remove the blue vinyl decal was not meant to take away the intent of community members who wished to show support for police. He added that he had listened to the arguments of both sides, but that his decision was aimed at focusing on the bigger picture.
"My job is to bring the community together with law enforcement, and anything that can be used as a division or divisive tool is to eliminate it, if we can," Krantz said.
The department addressed the decision in a Facebook post which read:
“Our patrol vehicles are currently getting a makeover, by removing the blue line graphic on them. The divisive use of the thin blue line symbol to fit a narrative unassociated with our department or what we stand for, has unintentionally created an ongoing divide between some members of our community and the police officers who serve them.
“In the spirit of mending divide, being inclusive with the community we serve, and to continue to build trust within our entire community, our current and future vehicle graphics package will no longer contain a blue line.
“Moving forward, we will be looking for a design that incorporates a way to honor members of our first responder family who have given their life in service of their communities. Our goal is to have a symbol created that blends seamlessly with our existing mountain graphics.”