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After Ill. college considers thin blue line flag removal, PD official threatens to pull academy support

“I will take every resource out of the academy … I will not allow another potential probationary police officer to be part of this academy,” a Bloomingdale PD official said


Travis Emerson

By Joanna Putman

BLOOMINGDALE, Ill. — The College of DuPage is considering removing thin blue line flags from campus classrooms and memorials after students and faculty raised concerns, according to a report by The Courier.

The college offers a law enforcement training academy called the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy (SLEA). Members of the academy’s staff have displayed thin blue line flags in office spaces and within a memorial for fallen officers, according to the report.

At a Sept. 21 board of trustees meeting, Frank Giammarese, the director of public safety for the Bloomingdale Police Department, was adamant that the flags be allowed to remain. He said that their removal would be a “dishonor to police and [Officer Raymond] Murrell’s service.”

Murrell was a Bloomingdale police officer and SLEA graduate who died in a 2017 car accident, according to the report. One of the academy’s thin blue line flags is a memorial to Murrell.

“It’s disheartening to us. It kind of hit us in the gut that would even be compromised or potentially taken down,” Giammarese said at the meeting.

Giammarese said that if thin blue line flags were taken down, the Bloomingdale Police Department would withdraw all support from the law enforcement academy, according to the report.

“If the College of DuPage decides to take this police memorial down and this police flag down, I will take every resource out of the academy,” Giammarese said. “I will not allow another potential probationary police officer to be part of this academy. That’s how much that means to us.”

Criminal Justice Professor Theodore Darden sent a statement to be read at the board meeting, as he received online threats of violence, according to the report. Darden said he was not advocating for the removal of any memorials, but encouraged the board to consider that the flag may hold different meanings to different groups represented on campus.

“In short, the blue line flag carries multiple meanings for multiple groups for multiple purposes,” the statement read. “To portray the blue line flag to have only one meaning would be inaccurate.”

“Just so I am clear, the discussion around the blue line flag at COD has always been about the college, students and visitors,” Darden said. “It has and will always be an issue that is ultimately left up to the college administration to decide. This was a concern that was brought forth by visitors and criminal justice studies faculty who believed it warranted the college’s attention.”

The board has not made a decision yet regarding the flag’s removal.