Viroqua divided on new police logo; leaders weigh symbols on city buildings

Citizens raise concerns over thin blue line branding of Viroqua Police Department



VIROQUA, Wis. (WKBT) — The Viroqua Police Department’s logo prompted a heated debate. Some people in the city say the logo, known as the thin blue line, is not appropriate. Mayor Karen Mischel and Viroqua leaders face a difficult question of what should and should not appear on government buildings.

Out with the old and in with the new: A brand-new image sits above Viroqua’s new headquarters.

“The city of Viroqua has built a fantastic new facility for our police department,” Mischel said. “That has included a thin blue line decal.”

However, some residents see the thin blue line as inappropriate.

“This was not the intent of our police chief to put this symbol on any of the police department’s property to make anyone feel unsafe,” Mischel said.

Others question whether the city stands by its police department. Mischel said the city did not take a side on a political issue.

The reaction on social media toward Black Lives Matter after the death of George Floyd, Mischel says, distorted the meaning of the thin blue line.

“The use of this symbol is a support of each other and the family that they are,” Mischel said.

However, she wants to listen to the concerns of Viroqua residents. If the city elects to take the branding down, other images and flags come into the conversation.

“We have had people say, ‘We should put a pride flag up.’ We’ve had people say, ‘But you allow businesses to put Black Lives Matter signs up.’ I think what’s really important here is that we as a city need to decide, should any symbols be on government buildings?” Mischel said.

Mischel asked residents to listen to differing viewpoints, but that’s easier said than done.

“We have to try. If we don’t try to show up and do the hard work of listening to our community and hopefully being an example for our community of listening,” she said. “Maybe somewhere someone else will say, ‘Hey if they can do it, maybe I can do it.’”

Viroqua’s Diversity Advisory Board will look at this issue, and make a recommendation. There is a rally called Back the Blue Vernon County scheduled at noon this Saturday. Leader Bill Trott told News 8 Now the event is a nonpolitical show of support for local law enforcement agencies.

Mischel says the police department can take down the logo itself if it chooses. Viroqua’s police chief was not immediately available for comment.

Recent headlines on News 8 Now