Police union chief claims officers may have to display ISIS flags after celebrating Pride
A police union chief has suggested that officers might be forced to promote the symbols of “radicalized groups” after a rainbow sticker appeared on police cars.
Ahead of this month’s Pittsburgh Pride celebrations, the Pittsburgh Police Department had unveiled special rainbow decals on its police cars.
The vehicle decals take the place of the usual police crest, and bear the message ‘Pittsburgh Police supports Pride 2017’.
The gesture has been met with some resistance from some officers, according to WTAE, after string of homophobic and disparaging comments.
Bob Swartzwelder, President of the city’s Fraternal Order of Police, said in a statement that the rainbow sticker was a “slippery slope” to extremism.
He said: “A marked police vehicle represents neutrality in the enforcement of the law. Professional Police work improves community relations not car decals.
“Eventually a radicalized group will seek it’s [sic] community inclusion and raise a 1st Amendment issue.
“When denied it’s [sic] place on the publicly funded vehicle a content based law suit will arise. This action by the police Bureau is a slippery slope.
“Focus on professional police work… not car decals.”
The comments were branded “disappointing” by the local police chief.
Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert told WTAE: “It’s very disheartening to hear the FOP went to the media about their displeasure in supporting Pride and other events that help build stronger partnerships with the community we are entrusted to serve and protect.
“It’s extremely disappointing that the FOP would attempt to strain relations with the community when the PBP is doing everything in our power to improve those relationships.
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“The FOP is sending a message that has the potentional to do reprehensible harm to progress we’ve made to ensure there is inclusion with all members of the community.”
The Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, the city’s LGBT group, also questioned the comments.
They said: “We are perplexed at why FOP President Swartzwelder all of a sudden has taken issue with these stickers as it is our understanding that this is the third of a series of nine stickers to be applied to the cars representing different communities and causes.
“We were made aware of the decision about the stickers yesterday and think the idea can be a conversation starter, can create an opportunity for education, and will help develop a greater understanding of our differences and what we have in common.”
They added: “Officer Swartzwelder’s statement does nothing to repair the relationship between Pittsburgh’s LGBT citizens and visitors.
“We hope that the FOP and all of its members will continue to work to gain a greater understanding of the LGBT community, specifically transgender people, people of colour, and under-served members of our community, as they work to protect and serve all residents of the City of Pittsburgh.”