ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Maryland governor on Sunday sharply criticized Montgomery County’s top elected official for banning a police department from displaying a wooden “thin blue line” flag that was a gift last week from a local resident.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich called the flag “divisive” over the weekend and said it was not going to be put on display at the Fifth District police station, overruling officers who accepted the gift and said that it would be displayed.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said in a series of tweets that he was “offended and disgusted” Elrich had arbitrarily prohibited officers from displaying the flag that was made for them by a father and his young son in honor of National First Responders Day, Fox 5 reported.
“I have attended the funerals of fallen law enforcement officers across our state, and I take time to thank them every day for their dedicated service and sacrifice,” he said.
Thank you to resident James Shelton, who presented Montgomery County 5th District officers with a wooden American Flag that he had made in recognition of National First Responders Day. The flag will be displayed in the 5th District Station. pic.twitter.com/kbAI32xHkY
— Montgomery County Department of Police (@mcpnews) October 30, 2019
Hogan said the same flag was “proudly” on display in the Governor’s Mansion in Annapolis, according to the report.
“I strongly call on Mr. Elrich to immediately reverse this terrible decision and to apologize to the police and the citizens of Montgomery County,” he said.
Montgomery County’s police union also criticized Elrich, who is a Democrat, saying that it would be honored to accept the “thin blue line” flag.
“The working police officers of Montgomery County are highly offended by this act of outright disrespect for them and that flag which represents the sacrifices and dedication of police officers who daily risk their lives, health, limbs and own well-being in service to their community,” police union said. “Too many have made the supreme sacrifice and we will not allow political pandering by Jones and Elrich to diminish their service.”
A spokeswoman for Elrich did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment from Fox News.
I’m offended and disgusted that County Executive Marc Elrich has prohibited Montgomery County Police officers from displaying a “thin blue line” American flag that was made for them by a father & his young son in honor of National First Responders Day.https://t.co/d8bDTWLgXl
— Larry Hogan (@LarryHogan) November 3, 2019
Montgomery County woodworker James Shelton and his young son Forrest presented the wooden flag to the Fifth Station on Wednesday.
Shelton told WJLA-TV last week that he also made a similar wooden flag for Montgomery firefighters assigned to Fire Station 31.
“I wanted my son to be involved so he could see how important it is to give back as well as to help build good character and make a wonderful memory we will always have,” he told the station. “[My son] was so excited to help and even more so when he helped me deliver them.”
The Montgomery County Police Department tweeted a note Elrich sent after the gift was accepted.
“The flag provides a symbol of support to some, but it is a symbol of dismissiveness to others,” he said. “Because it is divisive, the flag will not be posted at the 5th District nor in any public space within the Police Department.”
He added, “Under my administration, we are committed to improving police relations with the community and will immediately address any action that stands against our mission.”
The national spotlight has been on Montgomery County recently. This past summer police arrested at least seven confirmed undocumented immigrants for alleged rapes and sexual assaults. Elrich signed an executive order earlier designating the county a “sanctuary” jurisdiction, which facilitated the county controversy.
The order states that no county agency – including police departments – can cooperate with ICE. Immigration agents are barred from entering secure portions of county jails, and must take custody of illegal immigrants in public areas, such as jail parking lots. So is it any wonder that he would find the “thin blue line” flag offensive?