Law enforcement officers across Utah sign ‘Thin Blue Line’ flags for 2 Los Angeles deputies shot in ambush

ST. GEORGE — Two “Thin Blue Line” flags that have journeyed across the state and been signed by hundreds of law enforcement officers over the last two days are being prepared for a special delivery — to the two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies that were shot in an ambush in Southern California last week.

One of two “Thin Blue Line” flags for two Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputies injured in an ambushed that were signed by officers at the St. George Police Department, St. George, Utah, Sept. 17, 2020 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

In a large conference room at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Thursday, nearly 40 law enforcement officers assembled to sign the flags that have been signed by hundreds of officers across the state.

The flag-signing presentation was organized by “BLUE,” which stands for “Blue Line Unites Everyone,” and is a nonprofit, grassroots organization that started several months ago after a load of care packages were delivered to the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office near Orem in a show of community support.

It was during a conversation between Skye Christensen, the woman who delivered the packages, and one of the recipients, Morgan County Sheriff’s Deputy Trent Lindstrom, that the idea of forming a foundation to support local law enforcement through acts of kindness,  coupled with encouraging community support, was formed.

The idea came together to honor the deputies by making an interstate trek to have two flags signed by officers throughout the state to be delivered to the two Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputies — Deputy Claudia Apolinar, and her partner whose name has not yet been released — after they were shot while sitting in their patrol vehicle stopped at the metro station in Compton, California on Saturday.

Immediately after the attack, a wounded Apolinar was seen on surveillance footage working to place a tourniquet on her injured partner as she called over the radio for help, even though she was bleeding heavily from a gunshot wound to her jaw.

Officers from all over Washington County sign “Thin Blue Line” flags to be delivered to two Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputies shot in an ambush in Southern California, Hurricane, Utah, Sept. 17, 2020 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

For Lindstrom, the attack on the deputies was unacceptable, he said, adding both officers “were ambushed, and the intent was to kill them.”

That fueled the drive to do something for those deputies, and the flag signing idea “has been a collective effort” by officers, the community and the efforts of the organization, he said, efforts intent on sending a message that states, “We are family and are here to protect and support each other.”

Lindstrom also said that throughout Utah, there is a great deal of support for law enforcement in general. However, outside of this area, the environment is very different, and in many places officers “are being demonized in the public. They are being hated upon, attacked and ambushed,” he said.

Since the early stages of the effort that began this week, there has been “an overwhelming response from the public in support of the cause and for law enforcement in general,” Lindstrom said, adding that without the service that law enforcement provides, “cities fall apart.”

Numerous detectives and deputies with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office stood in line to sign the two flags, and Chief Deputy Nate Brooksby also provided patches, coins and other items from the sheriff’s office to be included in the deliveries to the two wounded deputies.

Officers gather at the St. George Police Department to sign “Thin Blue LIne” flags for two Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputies that were injured in a shooting in Southern California, St. George, Utah, Sept. 17, 2020 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

He said so many agencies were represented during the signing, which just goes to show the support they have for each other — support that is also felt strongly between law enforcement and communities throughout Washington County, Brooksby said.

“People have been coming out of the woodwork to let us know they are behind us,” Brooksby said, adding it is the partnership between law enforcement and the community that enables them to do their job.

A second signing took place at the St. George Police Department an hour later, where Chief Kyle Whitehead and about 30 of the department’s officers and detectives signed the flags, which Officer Tiffany Atkin said “was a complete honor to be able to support these deputies during such a difficult time.”

Which is why, she said, officers returned to the station from wherever they were working to attend the signing, “because it’s so important.”

Atkin added that knowing the other officers “have your six” is so important and goes along with having strong community support, and in St. George, she said “the support has been amazing.”

Washington City Police Chief Jason Williams was also on hand during the signing at the sheriff’s office and said the law enforcement family knows no jurisdictional boundaries, so regardless of where an officer is in need, they are there to support each other regardless of the city or state that officer is serving in.

Another element that is just as important, he said, is the fact that officers throughout the county know they are supported by their communities, which Williams said is very much the case in Washington City.

For Hurricane Police Officer Ken Thompson, to have a double shooting of two deputies based “solely on the badge they wear,” is heartbreaking, he said, and is something that is not only hard on an officer, “but very difficult to understand.”

Thompson also said it makes him even more grateful to serve in Hurricane, as the public continues to support the department in many ways, “and they continue to bring us cookies, drinks and donuts on a regular basis.”

He also said that just the other day, while waiting in a fast-food drive-through, “either the car in front of me or behind me paid for my lunch, and I have no idea which one it was.”

Arrangements to deliver the flags to the wounded deputies have been made through the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office and are scheduled to take place on Friday.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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