An Oklahoma county has added the national motto, “In God We Trust,” to its police cruisers.
Stephens County Sheriff Wayne McKinnney announced on Jan. 19 that the phrase had been added to all 30 patrol vehicles, The Duncan Banner reports.
“A couple of months ago, I decided to add our nation’s motto in all our marked patrol vehicles,” McKinnney said. "Speaking for myself and our deputies, we all place our faith and our trust in God. … I think in these times, it serves as a reminder of who you put your trust in."
The new look for deputy vehicles came at no cost to taxpayers, and was entirely funded by a donation. Each decal reportedly cost about $150.
Local law enforcement personnel expressed their support for the new slogan.
“I think it’s a good thing for our community," deputy Kolleen Byrd said. "In God I trust, so I want people to know that I’m proud to have that on my vehicle.”
Stephens County, Oklahoma, is not the first place to depict the motto on its deputy vehicles. Polk County, Georgia, moved to add the phrase to its patrol cars in 2015, according to The New York Times.
“If it’s on my money and it's on the state flag, I can put it on a patrol car,” Sheriff Johnny Moats told The Times.
“With the dark cloud that law enforcement has been under recently, I think that we need to have a human persona on law enforcement," Sheriff Brian Duke of Henderson County, Tennessee, said. "It gave us an opportunity to put something on our cars that said: ‘We are you. We are not the big, bad police.’”
Critics of police agencies’ adoption of the religious slogan say that such a move is a violation of the separation of church and state.
“The motto has nothing to do with the problem of police forces’ shooting people, but it’s a great way to divert attention from that and wrap yourself in a mantle of piety so that you’re above criticism,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.