Walton County Sheriff’s Office in northwest Florida has announced a plan to have bumper stickers saying “In God We Trust” on its patrol cars.
“We think it’s important for the citizens in this county to know what our core values are,” Sheriff Mike Adkinson told NWF Daily News.
The move was popular, according to reports, with the Facebook post receiving more than 5,000 likes and 1,000 shares.
“There’s absolutely no prejudice against anybody,” said Corey Dobridnia, spokeswoman for Walton County Sheriff’s Office. “When we enforce laws, everyone gets the same treatment no matter what religion they believe.”
Elsewhere in the state, the prospect of police vehicles having the motto on their bumpers has been more controversial.
Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen received a five-page letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation protesting "In God We Trust" stickers on the county’s patrol cars, The Washington Times reported.
Around 200 supporters of McKeithen’s move gathered at his office to counter a smaller demonstration by opponents.
“If this is the only thing they can get me on, I’m proud of it. But of all the things that are happening in this world, they’re complaining about my bumper stickers,” said McKeithen. “We must be doing a good job or hiding it really well.”
Protesters alleged their religious liberties were being undermined, and that the stickers could be a sign of bias.
“The sheriff’s office is not observing separation of church and state,” said Elias Broadstreet, a protest organizer. “Secondly, the sheriff’s office is not representing all of its constituents equally. Our third concern is that the sheriff is using the public institution for a religious and political agenda.”
“I will drive to their house just as fast as I will to the preacher’s house, and that’s all I have to say,” McKeithen added. “We don’t screen people to see if they’re atheists or Christians or Muslims or Jews. We’ve never done it, and I don’t know any law enforcement agency that has done it.”
McKeithen told the Times that other law enforcement agencies have contacted him, and his decision to adopt the stickers has gained considerable publicity.
“It’s kind of drawing other law enforcement agencies into holding their heads up and realizing that they are different than most places. Our jobs are different — we work on morals and ethics. And what better way to display it,” McKeithen added.