New Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman has banned flyers bearing the "Thin Blue Line" symbol from district stations, claiming they could offend members of the community, "The Dan O'Donnell Show" has learned exclusively.
The flyers advertise the twice-monthly "Blue Line Chapel" worship service at Milwaukee Police Association Hall. On a black background with a bright blue line through the center, the flyers read "Please join us at 6:00 pm for a light family dinner or just come for the worship gathering at 6:30 pm. The worship gathering will consist of one or more songs, a life and profession related message focusing on the Bible and time for fellowship afterwards."
Multiple sources confirmed that Norman ordered the flyers taken down because they depict the blue line imagery.
"The stated reason was that the flyers would be offensive to members of the community who might come into our district stations," said one law enforcement source. "Chief Norman saw one of the flyers in a garage and ordered them all taken down."
"It's an outrage," said another source. "We can't even show a symbol of pride for us because someone who comes into one of our stations might be offended. It's ridiculous."
Milwaukee Police Department chaplain George Papachristou, who ministers the Blue Line Chapel, declined to speak about the controversy, saying only "It's in God's hands."
Blue Line Chapel services will still be permitted and will not have to be renamed, but any flyers advertising them will no longer be permitted.
"The Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) has a great respect for the religious beliefs of all our members and for the community we serve," the Department said. "The Blue Line Chapel will continue to operate under the same name. However, this does not mean we will be publicly displaying certain uses of the 'blue line' image. Our focus remains on the services provided and not the display of a symbol that over the past few years the 'blue line' image has come to represent different meanings, among different segments within our community.
"We continue to support our members, including the courage and sacrifices they have made to protect our community. MPD remains committed to working with our community and system partners to build sustainable neighborhoods free of crime that are built on positive relationships."
Multiple sources say the flyers were not posted in any areas of any district station where members of the community could see them.
Norman was sworn in as Milwaukee Police Chief in November after serving as Acting Chief for nearly a year following the controversial firing of former chief Alfonso Morales. The City of Milwaukee was forced to pay Morales a $627,000 settlement for violating his due process rights when the Fire and Police Commission moved to demote him in August, 2020.
Papachristou started Blue Line Chapel during widespread unrest and rioting in the Summer of 2020 after officers were so overworked that they could not make traditional Sunday church services. The Blue Line Chapel services, which are held on the first and third Thursday of each month, proved so popular that they were continued even after the rioting died down.
Amid the rioting of 2020, supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement deemed the thin blue line flag and related imagery were deemed to be a symbol of white supremacy. The concept of the thin blue line, which is a takeoff of "the thin red line" of the British Army during the Crimean War, is believed to have been popularized by Los Angeles Police Chief Bill Parker in the 1950s. It is a reference to police officers (whose uniforms are almost always blue) as the line separating the public from the criminal element that wishes to do it harm.