BROCKPORT, N.Y. (WROC) — SUNY Brockport University Police Chief Daniel Vasile says the department will no longer use the “Thin Blue Line” flag in any official college capacity.
In a letter to the campus community, sent Tuesday afternoon, Vasile says questions were raised after the flag was seen in posts on the University Police Instagram account.
While Vasile says the flag has a long and proud history, he writes that the symbol has recently been hijacked by white supremacists and hate groups. For that reason, the University Police Chief concluded that the flag will no longer be used in any official college capacity.
Chief Vasile’s full letter:
“Dear Brockport Community:
It has come to my attention that photos posted to the University Police Instagram account over the past several years have caused some concern.
The photos in question depict University Police officers with the “thin blue line” flag over the last year or two. This flag has a long and rich history. It is not associated with the “Blue Lives Matter” movement and was never intended to oppose the “Black Lives Matter” movement. It was adopted by law enforcement professionals in the 1950s to represent their courage and sacrifice. The thin blue line is used to symbolically represent how law enforcement officers separate the law-abiding portion of a community from others who intend chaos and destruction. Police Officers across this country, including in our department, have long proudly displayed this flag. To us, it’s both a symbol of pride and solidarity in our profession and a memorial to our colleagues who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
However, I do understand that the meaning of the “thin blue line” flag has sadly become confusing to many in recent months. The flag has been hijacked by white supremacists and other hate groups to create further divide in our communities. It saddens me to see this. We want there to be no confusion in our community: University Police stands firmly against hate. Therefore, University Police will no longer be using this flag in official College capacities.
University Police is fully committed to meeting the needs of our diverse community. We are actively working to make that happen. Our officers have gone through a multitude of trainings, including harassment and discrimination prevention, SafeZone, crisis intervention, mental health first aid, understanding accessibility and ableism, implicit bias, and fair and impartial policing. University Police is also actively participating in the 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge. We see this as a tremendous opportunity to not only continue to learn, but to engage in discussions around these important topics with our campus community. We hope you’ll join us.
Trainings alone won’t accomplish our goals. We need to build trust. To that end, we are in the process of establishing an advisory board — which is open to all faculty, staff and students. If you are interested in participating, please contact me.
Our work is far from over. But our commitment to doing this work is strong. University Police hopes you’ll join our efforts to Build a Better Brockport.
Chief Daniel M. Vasile”
When asked for comment, SUNY Brockport officials replied, “The email stands on its own.”
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.