You may have noticed that over the past few weeks, we’ve given a voice to some of the internet trolls that send anonymous messages to Law Enforcement Today.
This was a conscious decision by our team. Allow me to explain why.
Each month, Law Enforcement Today reaches more than 25 million people. We get thousands – sometimes tens of thousands – of messages and emails from people.
The vast majority are in support of law enforcement.
But many are not.
Many news outlets choose to ignore the negativity. But we believe it’s important to highlight it as a way of showing what’s happening in our country and our culture. It needs to be called out, and we’re willing to do it.
When we received this message about the “backwards flag on police uniforms”, we laughed it off at first. But then we decided it’s an opportunity to educate people and answer a common question – “Why is the flag backwards?”.
Here’s the answer, according to that internet troll (we did not correct the spelling or grammar):
Why dont you people at law enforcment today share the story of why some cops have backwards flags on there uniforms? My guess is that you don’t know. You say you take stories from other people, so here’s one you can publish.
My pops told me the true story that the media doesn’t talk about. One day I says to him pops whys that flag backwards? He told me its because of the fear of cops. That there scared of people who are better then them. That its a sign of distress because people are rising up and fighting back against the things they do that break the constitution and its a secret message between cops to say your all in it together.
It started with the military when they started putting American flags on backwards to tell there leaders it was time to get out of countries we don’t belong in and it spread. You should cover THAT story.
I’ll be honest, after I finished laughing at this, I had to ask myself… “are people really this dumb”?
Then I almost felt empathetic. I realized that this cultural divide in America that’s fueling a hatred on law enforcement is largely being crafted by misinformation.
And today, we have an opportunity to clear the air on just why that flag is backwards.
(Above, the Capitol Region Emergency Service Team (CREST) in Connecticut shares a short documentary filmed on the organization by Inforce.)
Why Is The Flag “Backwards”?
It’s not an uncommon question. People see the U.S. flag seemingly reversed on an arm patch of the U.S. military or law enforcement uniforms and wonder if it’s backwards.
Here’s the deal.
The United States flag dips to no one – man or king. It flies higher than all of the other flags in the United States. Even at the Olympics, the American flag is the ONLY one that doesn’t dip to the head of state of the host country.
This is a sign of respect to the flag, not a sign of disrespect to others.
The flag is a living and breathing part of the United States. It must always face forward.
On a flagpole, facing forward puts the stars on the left side next to the pole. That’s considered the most prestigious position.
But on an arm patch, you’re looking at it differently. When that Marine, law enforcement officer or soldier marches forward, the U.S. flag must always also face forward.
The United States flag will NEVER retreat and cannot be seen in or perceived as being in retreat. Wearing the flag like this gives the effect of the flag flying in the breeze as the warrior moves forward.
That means the stars are actually now on the right-hand side of their badge, facing forward. It’s always in its special position when flown on a car as well.
Never retreating. Always assaulting forward.
THIS is our flag. THIS is America.
And if you have a problem with it… you should get the hell out.
Flags and Policing
Over the past couple of years, the American flag has fallen at the center of a heated debate.
We’ve seen a rise in demands for the flag to be taken down, with activists saying it’s a symbol of racism and oppression. That debate has made its way to law enforcement.
In September of 2017, a white Chicago police officer was reprimanded by the department for posting a photo on social media of himself in apparent protest of the NFL players who knelt during the national anthem before Sunday’s games.
The photo on the officer’s Facebook page shows him in uniform holding an American flag as he stands in front of a marked Chicago police SUV. A poster on display carries several messages: “I stand for the anthem,” “I love the American flag” and “I support my president and the 2nd Amendment.”
The discipline comes days after two uniformed black officers were reprimanded for posing in a photo shared on social media of them kneeling and raising their fists in a police station with an activist in support of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who refused to stand during the anthem last season as a protest of police treatment of minorities.
According to Chicago Tribune, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said all three officers have been given reprimands for violating department rules that prohibit them from participating in any partisan political campaign or activity while on duty.
The Tribune reports it is among the lightest punishment an officer can face.
“The rules prohibiting officers from making political statements while in uniform will be applied consistently,” Guglielmi said.
NFL players at games around the country the previous weekend knelt or locked arms to protest comments from President Donald Trump during a speech Friday night in Huntsville, Ala.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump said to loud applause.
Trump has continued to tweet about the controversy since.
“The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!”
The white officer’s Facebook page showcased his own photo with the flag and the poster under another message that read “2 sides to a story.”
One pro-law enforcement group called “Chicago Code BLUE” shared the photo on its Facebook page with a message that read, “We commend you for your courage…Will the mayor? That’s the question.”
In discussing the photo of the two black officers, Mayor Rahm Emanuel sought to walk a line between supporting Americans’ right to protest and the need for the Police Department to fairly apply rules prohibiting officers from espousing political positions.
The mayor wants rank-and-file officers to make connections with regular Chicagoans to try to mend some of the distrust that has built up toward the department, especially among black and Latino residents. But he said while the black officers in the photo were trying to do that, they ran afoul of the department policy in the process.
“They were somewhat betwixt, between two different aspirations,” Emanuel said.
While each state has varying oaths that are taken when police officers are sworn in for duty, former LET Editor Jim McNeff thought it would be beneficial to re-visit the oath taken when he began his career, and is still administered to officers today:
I, ___________________________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties upon which I am about to enter. (Unfortunately, “So help me God” has subsequently been removed.)
Moreover, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has incorporated the following words to their oath:
And I do further swear (or affirm) that I do not advocate, nor am I a member of any party or organization, political or other- wise, that now advocates the overthrow of the Government of the United States or of the State of California by force or violence or other unlawful means; that within the five years immediately preceding the taking of this oath (or affirmation) I have not been a member of any party or organization, political or other-wise, that advocated the overthrow of the Government of the United States or of the State of California by force or violence or other unlawful means. I will not advocate nor become (name of office) a member of any party or organization, political or otherwise, that advocates the overthrow of the Government of the United States or of the State of California by force or violence or other unlawful means.
The IACP Law Enforcement Oath of Honor reads this way:
On my honor, I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character or the public trust. I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions. I will always uphold the constitution, my community, and the agency I serve.
Everyone will come to their own conclusions, but kneeling in defiance of our flag, our system of justice, and the U.S. Constitution violates the oath of office as far as we’re concerned at Law Enforcement Today.
So here’s the deal according to CPD. They now equate holding an American flag, declaring to stand for the national anthem, supporting the president AND the U.S. Constitution is a “political statement” along the lines of kneeling in protest while “The Star Spangled Banner” is played. Sure it’s in the realm of the current political upheaval, but when patriotism is banned while in uniform, the dominoes will continue to fall.
Each act might technically be a violation of policy, but kneeling in defiance of the flag violates the oath of office, while displaying patriotism clearly does not.
What is next, getting reprimanded for standing at attention and saluting the American flag?
Okay, your comments?
(Photo: Chicago Code Blue Facebook)