Incident after incident involving police officers nationwide led Childress Police Chief Adrian Garcia to create a cause his team could rally around.
“I see all these young officers that are coming up and wanting to be cops but then you look at them when we’re down in the dumps now with, of course, media and just America in general,” Garcia said. “How can we bring these guys up and say, ‘Hey, you know, let’s do this job. Let’s keep our heads held high.'”
That’s why Garcia decided his department’s patrol units needed something extra. He added the phrase “In God We Trust” to all police vehicles.
“What better thing to say than our American motto?” Garcia said.
And what started as a morale booster, quickly became controversial. Not long after adding the decals, the Freedom from Religion Foundation wrote a letter requesting Garcia remove them.
It only took Garcia one sentence to tell the group exactly how he felt.
He wrote, “After carefully reading your letter, I must deny your request in the removal of our nation’s motto from our patrol units, and ask you and the Freedom from Religion Foundation go fly a kite.”
“I think that’s what really made this thing go viral,” Garcia said. “You’re not going to tell me that I can’t have this on my vehicles.”
When Garcia posted his response on the police department’s Facebook page, it got more than 171,000 likes.
“The social media has been very positive in Childress County, almost 100 percent positive on the social media outlets,” Childress Sheriff Mike Pigg said. “The only time we hear any negativity is from outside of this community.”
In fact, so many people expressed their satisfaction with the vehicles’ new additions, they wanted one of their own.
The business responsible for lettering the different units, Childress Glass, says they began to get a demand for personal decals with the same phrase. The owner, Robby Jones, tells us they’ve already sold at least a thousand of them.
But as Sheriff Pigg mentioned, not everyone is on board with Garcia’s decision.
“It’s not illegal but it’s dumb,” Civil Rights Attorney Jeff Blackburn said. “It’s just dumb.”
Blackburn calls the decals a “nationally facebook-driven fad.”
“Like most fads, it’s going to be the biggest thing that ever was for about a day and then it will all be gone,” he said.
But Garcia disagrees.
“As long as I’m chief of police, it’ll stay,” he said.
An argument against the decals is that they may communicate an “unsafe” message to people who aren’t Christian. Garcia says while the decals do mention God, the only that’s been on police vehicles longer say “Protect and serve.”
He says that’s the oath all officers take, regardless of a person’s religion.
For a look at which cities across the country are also using “In God We Trust” decals, click here.