The U.S. flag, which is currently located on the right sleeve of CPD’s uniform, will be replaced by the department’s police patch.
According to Chief David Bishop, a ribbon pin displaying the U.S. flag, will be worn “under the badge and over the officer’s heart.”
Moving the flag patch removes any doubt that a uniformed Cleveland police officer is in fact “a police officer,” Bishop said.
Current police uniforms have a city seal on the left shoulder and the flag emblem on the right. Depending on the profile presented to the people, they clearly see a police officer if the left profile is presented, whereas the right profile could be that of anyone proudly displaying loyalty to the United States of America, according to Bishop.
The positioning of the flag has also been questioned in the past, Bishop said.
The flag is designed to appear as if it is flowing in the wind, with the field of stars forward and the stripes leading backward. In the past, military positions of the flag would represent soldiers heading forward into battle.
Bishop said the change conforms to about 95 percent of police departments across the nation, including the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office.
“It is a legal and liability issue,” he said. “I want to remove as much doubt as possible and give any defense attorney the opportunity to say in court that a police officer was not clearly identified. Of equal importance, I do not want innocent bystanders placed in harm’s way because they were mistaken for a law enforcement officer,” Bishop said.
In 2008, when Bishop was promoted to captain, he said he made recommendations to clarify the identity of officers through the patch change.
“I think it is vital that police officers are properly identified. Security guards, truck drivers and many other people wear the U.S. flag patches on their uniforms. We want to make sure we are clearly identified as police officers,” Bishop said.
The flag emblem has adorned local police uniforms for more than 20 years as a sign of support to the nation’s armed forces.
“Removing the emblem is nothing disrespectful to our military,” he said. “I just want to take away all claims in court that a defense attorney’s client did not know the officer’s identity,” Bishop added.
The flag pins have been ordered and they are expected to be issued to officers in the near future, according to Bishop.