It’s been more than a month since the nation’s motto was placed on the rear bumper of Pettis County Sheriff’s Office vehicles, and Sheriff Kevin Bond said he’s received nothing but support for the decision.
The placement of the “In God We Trust” decals in Pettis County came after a unanimous decision from the Missouri Sheriff’s Association last month to place the decal on squad vehicles throughout the state, at the discretion of the individual departments. Bond said the decision was his last official duty as president of MSA.
“With the adverse attention that law enforcement has received over the last year or so, there really are good officers out there and good officers that do a good job day in and day out. This is a way of being able to show our support for our nation and certainly show our patriotism. I think it’s a small thing we can do,” he said.
The decals were placed on all Pettis County Sheriff’s Office marked vehicles Friday, Aug. 14. They were provided at no cost to the department, so there was not any taxpayer money involved in placing the decals.
Bond said he has received support for the vehicle decals from both deputies and the public.
“I have had overwhelming support for the placement on the cars and I have not had any direct complaints about it at all,” he said.
While there is support locally for the decal decision, the Associated Press reported Thursday that the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based organization dedicated to upholding the separation of church and state, is asking Missouri sheriffs to remove the decals. According to the AP report, the group “argues that the motto is ‘exclusionary’ of atheistic and agnostic citizens.”
Bond said while there may be citizens “less than happy” with Pettis County’s decision to use the motto on its vehicles, he hasn’t heard of any negative feedback in the region — only from out-of-state organizations.
“I have not heard any circumstances where the public of the locality where it’s placed have been opposed to it. Most of it is from opposition groups in other locales, even maybe in other states,” he said. “For instance, I know there was a protest against Stone County’s placement that occurred in Florida. … Not even a local or regional response.”
FFRF Co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor told the AP her association also disagrees with the use of “In God We Trust” as a national motto. She said her association could decide to file a lawsuit to force sheriff’s departments to remove the decals.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1482 or @NicoleRCooke.