Rochester, N.Y. – A sign honoring a fallen Rochester Police officer is sparking controversy more than a century after he died in the line of duty.
This past week, the memorial honoring Patrolman Charles E. Twitchell in the area of Meigs and Rockingham streets in Rochester was vandalized twice. Twitchell died in the line of duty on Aug. 7, 1910.
The first time, it was done with paint: the next, with stickers.
South Wedge resident Margaret Hanna said she can’t recall the last time her neighborhood had seen so much activity.
“In the past week, we woke up to find in the early morning it painted white and then below it said, ‘Not today.’”
In recent months, the sign was replaced after a car crash damaged the original.
The replacement, made by the Badge of Honor Association, includes a logo with a thin blue line American flag.
“People have a knee-jerk reaction to that,” said neighbor Mark Osterman, “because it seems like, it’s clear that that’s a reaction to Black Lives Matter.”
However, Larry Crawford says the sign was never meant to offend.
“That blue line represents the line officers walk every time they go out of their house, and not knowing if they’re coming back,” said the former Monroe County Sheriff’s deputy.
Crawford now volunteers for the Sheriff’s Office Association of Retirees. S.O.A.R. took over and adopted the memorials when Badge of Honor dissolved in 2019, inheriting replacement signs. The signs have special meaning for Crawford, who lost his wife, Cpl. Catherine Crawford, in 1995, two years after she was injured in the line of duty.
Crawford says new signs, designed by S.O.A.R and paid for by donation, will feature a new logo without the thin blue line.
The vandalism is being investigated by the Rochester Police Department.