A Thin Blue Line

As part of a growing trend around the country, Keene city councilor Philip Jones made a recommendation to the Municipal Services, Facilities and Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday to paint a blue line down the center of Marlboro St in downtown Keene. This effort “would serve as a reminder that they (Keene Police Department) always have the support of the local community.”

Most attending the hearing spoke favorably of the service provided by KPD but there were some concerns over the precedent this request would create; what over city departments and organizations would want their own personalized line painted in the street next?

As the only dissenting voice at the hearing, I explained my concerns over this “every cop gets a trophy mentality.” Recognition should only be given to those who have gone above and beyond and never handed out simply because you wear a special uniform. This blue line creates a statement that “all” police should be recognized as heroes regardless of their performance.

The request was ultimately postponed until next hearing in order to gather more information regarding  the final cost and equipment needed.

Sentinel report:

A City Council committee postponed making a decision on a proposal to paint a blue traffic line down Marlboro Street to show appreciation for Keene’s police officers.

At a meeting of the municipal services, facilities and infrastructure committee Wednesday night, Vice Chairman Randy L. Filiault said city staff need more time to answer questions about the proposal’s cost and research how similar projects have gone over in other communities.

The proposal came before the council last week after Ward 5 Councilor Philip M. Jones filed a memo asking that city staff paint a blue line down the middle of Marlboro Street to show support and respect for the services provided by members of the city’s police department.

“Modern-day police personnel are working at an all-time high stress level. The blue stripe would be a continuous reminder of the community appreciation for all that they do,” the memo said.

Jones’ proposal comes at a time when police departments nationwide are facing criticism, including accusations of racism, and violence following numerous shootings involving unarmed black men during the past two years.

Officers are also increasingly being targeted by violence. Late Wednesday night, two Boston police officers were critically injured after a man wearing body armor and armed with an assault rifle shot them multiple times. In July, a man in Dallas killed five police officers during a peaceful protest against fatal police shootings of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana.

The proposal was sent to the municipal services committee for further review.

Committee members all expressed their support for the project at Wednesday’s meeting, but some were concerned that other organizations and agencies in the community would feel left out by the project and want their own displays.

Keene Police Chief Brian Costa conveyed the police department’s appreciation for Jones’ proposal but raised the same concern.

“What happens when one of the many other worthwhile organizations … were to come to the council and ask for the same display. Where does that go?” he said.

He said he didn’t want the project to limit similar treatment for other groups.

He and other speakers at the meeting brought up breast cancer awareness organizations, the fire department and the schools as others that might deserve or ask for similar painted displays.

Jones suggested the blue line be painted between the yellow lines on Marlboro Street, from the intersection with Eastern Avenue to the intersection with Main Street. The police station is at 400 Marlboro St.

“Before each shift, everyone who works for the police department drives down that street and after each shift,” Jones said at the meeting.

Although he didn’t know exactly how much the project would cost, Filiault said City Manager Medard Kopczynski told him it would be $100 or less.

Filiault said he wanted to avoid taking money out of the city’s operating budget to pay for the line, if possible, and suggested taking donations from the community.

Keene Public Works Director Kurt D. Blomquist said his department could handle the project. But he said the city would have to be careful about carrying out similar requests for other organizations because the displays could become overwhelming for drivers.

“You talk about doing blue here on Marlboro Street and red somewhere else, pink somewhere else — that certainly could become confusing just because it’s not the norm.”

He said that to avoid confusion, many towns that have painted blue lines for their police departments have done so in downtown areas.

Many communities across the country, including several in Ohio and 72 in New Jersey, have painted blue lines to show appreciation for police officers, according to Jones.

He said that Keene’s blue line could not be painted downtown, however, because of the median on Main Street.

Blomquist stressed that wherever displays were painted on the street, they would need to be contained and “localized.”

Keene resident Conan Salada expressed his disapproval of the project Wednesday. He said individual officers “who go above and beyond” deserve recognition, but not the entire department.

“The entire profession shouldn’t be broad-stroked as heroes because of a uniform you put on in the morning,” he said.

At the end of the meeting, Filiault affirmed his support for the project.

“I, for one, don’t think painting a small blue line down Marlboro Street is going to have any negative effect,” he said.

The proposal will come before the committee again in two weeks, at which point it will decide whether to recommend the project to the City Council.

Costa said he will respect whatever decision the City Council makes.

He said after the meeting that the police department has a strong relationship with Keene and its residents.

“What’s happening nationally is not reflective in this community,” he said. “We feel supported by this community every day.”

By Xander Landen, Sentinel Staff

Now you can subscribe to Free Keene via email!

Don't miss a single post!


15 Comments

  1. I am all for the line along with most of Keene. Of course an activist is going to stand and make a fool out of himself but you never win anything. I think the blue line is a great idea and many cities in America do too.

  2. Jumping Jacks

    A city doesn’t think with a single mindset as if it is an independent living organism.  It is simply a collection of people all living in close proximity to each other within (often) imaginary lines drawn up to determine the boundaries of one plantation from another.

    The irony is you would have people (“authorities”) steal more money to pay for painting this line to honor the people who allege to protect  people from those who would steal, which is sort of nonsensical, maybe even as bad as thinking an entire city shares a mindset. 

    Your Stockholm syndrome runs deep.

  3. WEEDA CLAUS Jumping Jacks Again your ridiculous rants and raves have nothing to do with what the blue line represents. No one lives in the 1870’s anymore except activists like yourself. Things are different now I suggest you step into 2016 and try to catch up. There are more people who are for the police then against. You are a minority. The majority supports this line.

  4. Jumping Jacks WEEDA CLAUS This is wrong. It’s unethical. It’s giving one opinion and group a priority of promotion and speech over another group. It is as bad as prohibiting speech. There is a reason we have separation of church and state. Not everybody agrees on religion. Well, this is exactly the same thing. This is putting one groups view and opinion the authority of law and that should never be acceptable.

  5. Jumping Jacks WEEDA CLAUS

    Are you implying that a thing inherently wrong can become acceptable, “not wrong”,  if you can just get enough people to all do or go along with the wrong thing ?  Sounds like the same argument slave holders once used.   

    If you want to build a monument to people who think a badge creates an immunity from being personally responsible for their actions that’s your business.   Pass the hat and use the money people voluntarily give you.  

    Put away your gun though in the collection process, otherwise your monument lies on a foundation of hypocrisy.  You never answered how any person or entity can be both the arm that takes from people absent their individual consent, and also claims to be the entity who will protect them from thieves.  I bet you can’t.

  6. Jumping Jacks WEEDA CLAUS You’re argument is dishonest, Jacks. In one thread you preach against the placement of political signs on public land. Yet in this thread, you have no problem with political statements on public property, as long as it’s only public servants that get to make them. If you’re going to play the contrarian here Jacks, couldn’t you at least once pretend that you hold a consistent opinion?

  7. libretea Jumping Jacks WEEDA CLAUS No, it’s not unethical. The police are not a separation between church and state. This blue line represents the hard work the PD does. It represents those who lost their lives in the line of duty. There are a lot more for this then against. I predict it will happen.

  8. WEEDA CLAUS Jumping Jacks First off, a blue line will not alter your life. Second no one will go back to living in the 1870’s to accommodate your lifestyle. Get used to it. You are a dying breed and if you continue to hang on to these obsolete ideas, you will be left behind in the dust living in a van down by the river.

  9. Drac Vermell Jumping Jacks WEEDA CLAUS Peaches as usual you can’t stay on topic. The city doesn’t need your permission to paint a blue line on the street. The blue line won’t affect your life in any conceivable way. If the city wanted to paint a red line on the street to commemorate firefighters, they can do that. So basically, the amount of energy you put into this means nothing and will not change anything.

  10. Jumping Jacks Drac Vermell WEEDA CLAUS Now, now, Jacks. You really need to work on this compulsive lying condition of yours. It’s affecting your reading comprehension.
    Oh and Jacks? You’re still not making an honest argument here. The issue is not whether anyone is being inconvenienced, Jacks. It’s about whether the police should be making political statements using public land at all. In the other thread you were very much against this very sort of thing. Now you claim it’s perfectly valid, as long as only government employees are doing it. You’re not being very consistent with your principles here, Jacks. I wonder why?

  11. Drac Vermell Jumping Jacks WEEDA CLAUS Peaches, again you are not following what this article is about. IF the city wants a blue line, that is what they will do and yes, more support that then against.  No, you cannot post political or religious sings on public land. I never said anything about “Inconvenienced”. Those again are your words. You have a lot to learn. For shame

  12. Jumping Jacks Drac Vermell WEEDA CLAUS Jacks, Jacks, Jacks, you made the claim earlier that no one’s life will be affected by this. If someone were affected, then wouldn’t that be an inconvenience? Goodness gracious Jacks, are you sure that you’re a college graduate? You seem to have considerable difficulty with rudimentary reading comprehension, don’t you? I find it very difficult to believe that you could have scored well enough on your SATs to earn admittance to even the lowest ranked nursing school. You didn’t pay someone to take those exams for you, now did you Jacks?
    Oh, and by the way Jacks, Conan’s article addresses exactly what I’ve been pointing out to you – that painting a blue line on Marlboro Street is no different from any other type of political statement. Since Keene’s police wish to make this statement on public property, why should Keene’s other citizens be prevented from doing the same? Perhaps if your dedication to contrarianism didn’t run so deep, you’d have more courage to question this inconsistency, eh Jacks?

  13. Jumping Jacks WEEDA CLAUS

    Why do people always live in vans, “down by the river”.  Couldn’t I live in a tent or something “in the woods” ?  I mean, really.  (eye roll)

  14. WEEDA CLAUS Jumping Jacks Don’t judge Jacks too harshly, WEEDA. His adoption of popular phrases from 90s skit comedy is a welcome addition to the Jacksisms he’s already known for. I for one can’t wait to see what other popular comedy phrases he’ll make use of. I’ve even placed some bets on it. But I do find it odd that Jacks never credited his source material. Considering his stance against plagiarism, you’d think he’d be more pernickety about that sort of thing.

  15. WEEDA CLAUS Jumping Jacks You could

Care to comment?