Blue Line of Police Support Proposed for Ocean County
TOMS RIVER — While blue lines come under question in other New Jersey communities, Ocean County is looking to paint a brand new one to show support for law enforcement.
Ocean County Board of Commissioners Director Gary Quinn is taking the idea suggested by Sheriff Mike Mastronardy to the rest of the board in hopes of getting their support for a vote at the next meeting on April 7. He'd like the line painted within the next 30 days.
"We all support our police officers and law enforcement people throughout the county and we think it would be a nice tribute to show support for these folks," Quinn told New Jersey 101.5. "They go out there, they put their lives on the line. I think it's important for them to realize the county stands behind them and we do everything we can to help them."
Mastronardy said he brought the idea to the commissioners after attending a meeting of the Monmouth County Police Chief's Association.
"Right now people are demonizing our law enforcement and public safety and they should show support for us," Mastronardy said.
The proposed line would be painted along Hooper Avenue in Toms River in an area that houses the Ocean County Sheriff's Office, Prosecutor's Office, Superior Court and county jail, according to Quinn.
Blue lines painted on streets and the symbolism of the blue line have faced criticism since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis nearly a year ago.
Flemington Mayor Betsy Driver had the blue line covered on Main Street hours before a Black Lives Matter protest in June, calling it a "shameful, divisive dividing line" that made some residents and visitors feel unwelcome and threatened.
A panel to review racial issues in Holmdel concluded in a preliminary report that a blue line painted outside the municipal building in 2016 has a different meaning in 2021.
“The symbol has been appropriated by white supremacists groups and the Blue Line now has the effect of making some members of our community feel unwelcome, and even threatened, in Holmdel. The HRC finds this impact unacceptable,” the Ad Hoc Human Relations Committee wrote in its preliminary report.
The report drew criticism from residents and Deputy Mayor Cathy Weber, who served on the panel, later apologized for the "hurtful" language of the report and noted that the panel only recommended not maintaining the current line.
"If we have folks who object to it we respect their opinion, we'll certainly always listen to each and every person who has an opinion but at the end of the day I don't believe it's going to be as volatile an issue as a lot of people make it out to," Quinn said.
Quinn acknowledges efforts to cut police budgets around the country but said that's not going to happen in Ocean County or in the state.
"At the end of the day, we're going to stand proud with the men in blue and the women in blue and do everything we can to support them moving forward," Quinn said.