Police Flag Types and Meanings

Published on
February 9, 2022 5:24:13 PM PST February 9, 2022 5:24:13 PM PSTth, February 9, 2022 5:24:13 PM PST

While we are used to state and country flags being colorful and vibrant, police flags are usually very different from that. The combination of colors, regardless of the flag type, normally transfers solemnity and alertness.


Yet, some flags that honor police forces have more elements besides the thin blue line. To this end, we’ll take a look at some of the most common police flags and their meanings.


Black Flag with a Single Blue Line  


Most police flags have a thin blue line on them as a representation of justice and order brought by police forces. It also may refer to the color of the police uniform, as most police departments wear blue uniforms. The blue line is common for police flags in different parts of the world too.


One of the most basic police flags is completely black except for the thin blue stripe right in the middle of it, stretching horizontally from one side to the other.


As opposed to the blue, the black stands for violence and chaos that could prevail if there were not for that one blue line that introduces order.


Another interpretation, though, says that the bottom black stripe stands for criminals, whereas the top black stripe is for the public, while the police are in the middle providing protection.


Black and White US Flag with the Thin Blue Line


Another version of the police flag is the black and white old Glory. Once again, the thin blue stripe goes right through the middle, this time right below the Union. The black stripes and Union background represent chaos and anarchy that might prevail. The stars and the white stripes, however, stand for the citizens.


Just like before, this one too is open to different interpretations. Hence, the black lines can also be understood as a memorial to the law officers that lost their lives for the country.


What is the origin of the thin red line flag?


The origin of the thin red line flag actually begins with the origin of the thin blue line flag, a flag created to show support for law enforcement. The thin blue line is a term that often refers to the concept of law enforcement as the line that prevents society from descending into violent chaos. 

There are a number of different flags that show solidarity with other first responders. The most popular ones include the blue line flag, which was created for EMS workers and dispatchers to use in emergencies where there’s an intersection or crossroads on-site; it also comes into play during situations when law enforcement needs help securing areas quickly while trying to avoid more people getting hurt, if possible (this can be done by setting up perimeters). Another common design is known as “the star pattern” – its basis being every person should have two hands available to they may offer assistance wherever needed.


Where is the thin red line flag flown or displayed?


Thin red line flags are sometimes displayed inside or outside fire stations or on fire apparatus, although there is debate as to whether such displays should be allowed on the town or city property.


Some fire departments have policies focused on displaying flags, decals, and emblems to make clear what is and is not allowed in the station or on apparatus.

Police Flag: Honor and Sacrifice Flag


This police flag is much more colorful and, admittedly, it refers not just to police officers but to all public safety personnel that died on the line of duty.


The flag has three horizontal stripes: blue, purple, and white. The blue, as one may have already guessed, stands for the law enforcement community. The purple mourns the loss of firefighters. The white is to symbolize the purity of heart of each and every American that serves and protects.


The police flag has several interesting symbols too:

·             The black star represents officers that wear star-shaped badges, such as sheriff and marshal services.

·             The red Maltese cross stands for emergency respondents who lost their lives.

·             The gold shield recognizes all public service members who wear the shield.

·             The folded flag is a symbol of a family sacrificing life one of their own for the safety of others.

·              The flame as the eternal spirit of the fallen hero.




State police departments can have flags of their own, and one of the oldest ones is certainly the New York City Police Department flag. It celebrated its 100th birthday in 2019.


The NYPD flag pretty much resembles the US flag with its stars and stripes. Yet, the stars are arranged in a circle, and there are 24 of them, standing for cities, towns, and villages that were a part of NY City in 1898.


Five green and white stripes stand for New York boroughs.


The green stands for the blue, i.e. the law enforcement members since the night watchmen, who were NY’s first paid police force, used to carry green lanterns at night.


Finally, should you wish to pay respect to the police members protecting America, you too can fly one of these police flags in front of your home.