A police chief in Prescott, Wisconsin, has ordered “In God we trust” stickers to be removed from patrol cars after a request by the mayor.
Police chief Gary Crutke made the announcement on his personal Facebook page, according to Twin Cities.
“Today I was told that I may have to remove these words from our squad cars because the bad guys might be offended by these words ‘In God we trust’,” Crutke’s post read, according to Twin Cities.
“I didn’t see a problem,” said Mayor Dave Hovel.
However, Hovel added that after legal consultation, he had reached the conclusion that it was “better to have [the stickers] off.”
While Hovel said Crutke had not been upset by the decision, the police chief made clear he opposed it.
“I don’t know about you but as far as I see it if it is good enough and not so offensive as to be on the money that we spend every day then it should not be so offensive that we can’t/shouldn’t have these words on our squad cars,” he wrote.
John O’Boyle, former Pierce County District Attorney, raised the issue of the separation of church and state.
“They’re not your personal vehicles,” O’Boyle wrote. “Regardless of what his religious beliefs would be, he works for a government agency.”
The debate in Prescott is part of a wider dispute spreading across several states.
Last year, Ken Paxton, the Attorney General in Texas, ruled police departments could use the stickers without violating the U.S. Constitution.
“Displaying ‘In God we trust’ on police vehicles is a passive use of a motto steeped in our nation’s history that does not coerce citizen approval or participation,” Paxton wrote in his decision, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The ruling prompted several sheriffs to put the stickers on their vehicles, including in Liberty and Brazoria counties.
Other sheriffs disagree and have decided not to adopt the stickers.
“We serve millions in Harris County from many different creeds and religions,” Thomas Gilliland, spokesman for Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman, told the Chronicle. “We want to push the concept that everyone matters. We think the words ‘maintain the Public Trust’, which are already on our vehicles, should be enough, because they encompass everyone.”