‘Thin blue line’ concern prompts review of city flag rules

West Haven city officials are now working to address a gap in the city’s charter


By Suzie Ziegler 

WEST HAVEN, Conn. — The city of West Haven, Connecticut, is reevaluating its rulebook after a resident objected to a thin blue line flag flying on a city-funded building. According to CT Insider, the city charter doesn’t explicitly say if city departments can fly any flags at all.  

“Even though we put up an Irish flag for St. Patrick’s Day and Italian flags for Columbus Day, it turns out we actually don’t have any authorization to do so,” said Tom McCarthy, the city’s Public Works Commissioner. “Whether it’s archaic or not, I will have to think about this.” 

The conversation began at a June city council meeting when a West Haven man said he was troubled by a thin blue line flag hanging on the Public Works garage, which is a building and department funded by the city. 

McCarthy tells CT Insider that he doesn’t believe the city should stop flying flags for holidays or special interest groups. However, he says his department may request annual approval to fly certain flags, pending a revision to the city’s charter, the report said. 

McCarthy worries the issue could also extend to special lighting displays on a city-owned bridge. 

“We want to avoid the personalization of bridge lighting and have there be a process,” he told CT Insider. 

Lee Tiernan, the city’s Corporation Counsel, says he will soon present legal findings regarding the issue to the mayor. 

The city council chairman said the council will vote on the issue “if it comes to that,” the report said. 

NEXT: State your case: Should the thin blue line flag be banned from police departments?

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