A group of firefighters in Riverside County, California wanted to honor police officers killed in Baton Rouge and Dallas.
So firefighter Eric Hille decided to display a pro-police flag on one of the fire engines at Sunnymead Ranch Station 48.
You’ve probably seen the flag — it’s black and white with a blue stripe through the middle — symbolizing the “thin blue line.”
He posted the flag on July 17 -- just a few hours after a gunman attacked officers in Baton Rouge, killing three.
“We just wanted to show our support for law enforcement,” Mr. Hille told me. “We wanted them to know that we stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with them.”
Police officers appreciated the goodwill gesture — but some people did not.
The following day the fire chief sent an email to the firefighters — telling them the flag had to come down.
And your friendly neighborhood columnist received an exclusive copy of the email written by Chief John Hawkins.
“Our foremost concern was whether the flag could create a safety risk for emergency responders due to extremists targeting the fire engine or for people following the fire engine and not being able to see the warning lights,” the chief wrote.
He also said the fire department had to “look at the big picture.”
“How is this perceived by not only the public, but also those that would seek to do harm to those in public safety?” he wrote. “Some feel the flag is an attempt to incite further violence against those who, to our very core, have dedicated our lives to protecting all lives.”
The fire chief called the decision to remove the pro-police flag a “difficult” and “painful” decision.
“Should we potentially increase the risk for our firefighters by flying flags, banners or signs in this time of divisiveness,” he asked. “Sadly, in this unsettled time the danger is possible.”
What a load of Grade-A fertilizer, folks.
It’s pretty clear to me the fire department big wigs were more concerned with the feelings of the anti-police crowd.
“The type of flag -- while strongly supporting our LE (law enforcement) family -- could increase tension or cause a negative response within the community,” the chief wrote.
The fire chief went to great lengths in his email to defend the decision — and took great offense at the criticism that he has rightfully received.
“It is beyond belief to suggest ‘management’ isn’t acutely aware of or sensitive to the attacks on our LE brothers and sisters,” he wrote.
It seems to me that the fire department management is more concerned about the feelings of a bunch of anti-police agitators than they are about showing their public support for law enforcement.
Mr. Hille was so disturbed by the incident he decided to post a message on Facebook. His story created massive outrage — so much so — that the fire department asked him to remove photos of the flag from his social media accounts.
“As you can tell, the pictures are still posted and will remain posted to show our support for our brothers and sisters in blue,” he wrote.
As we say back home in the South — good on you, Mr. Hille — good on you.
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is "God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values." Follow Todd on Twitter @ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.