Following increasing pressure from veterans, Florida’s Sanford Police Department announced Wednesday it would discontinue use of military ribbons in their award system.
Combat veteran Jeremiah Workman first noticed the ribbons while he watched a Sanford police officer testify at the Zimmerman murder trial. One of them was from World War II, which set off a red flag in his mind.
Gina Harkins of The Marine Corps Times reports that Workman — a recipient of the nation’s second highest award for valor, the Navy Cross — called the Sanford PD to register a complaint.
Following an initial story from Harkins and several emails, the Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith — himself a veteran of 25 years — issued a response via email Tuesday that made it seem like the process would be lengthy and bureaucratic:
It was determined that some 10-15 years ago that using the ribbons in question would be appropriate by the Administration at that time … I believe that it’s an unfortunate situation one of which we will correct …
… as the new Police Chief, I hope you can imagine there are several policies and procedures which are being reviewed including the awards and uniform guidelines. I can assure you that going forward we will look into changing the ribbon structure to better fit the needs of the Sanford Police Department.
That wasn’t enough for one of the many other vets included on the chain — retired sailor Kirby Dickerson — who promptly hit reply-all to demand more:
If I were in your position, I would immediately suspend the wearing of all military medals by your police officers, unless of course they served and earned the right to wear them. It shouldn’t take a review to correct something I would expect a 25 year veteran to already know.
Smith replied all immediately, saying instead that the decision had already been made.
“In every situation, deployment or new operation it takes time to make changes/corrections and I’m correcting this situation now,” wrote Smith.
Apparently it only took another 12 hours or so, because by the next morning, the Sanford PD announced — “effective immediately” — that they would suspend use of military ribbons on all uniforms.
A Fraternal Order of Police representative said it was the first time he had heard of police department using military ribbons, according to Harkin.
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