The Associated Press reported that the city of Bakersfield had been given the okay to use the decals that have the motto of the United States on their police and fire vehicles.
The decision came following a vote in the southern San Joaquin region.
“I love the motto, it’s meaningful. It’s powerful,” council member Jacquie Sullivan said. Sullivan had requested that the council vote on the issue during the most recent City Council meeting. “Those words are intended to encourage,” she added.
The Bakersfield City Council has given the go-ahead to adding the motto “In God We Trust” to police and fire vehicles. https://t.co/LnL4ZfUIjA
— KTLA 5 Morning News (@KTLAMorningNews) June 6, 2019
The representative for Bakersfield, Kevin McCarthy, said that he was in support of the decals.
“The law enforcement officers of Bakersfield are some of the best in the country who work day in, day out to protect our community,” McCarthy said in a statement to the Bakersfield Californian. “Displaying ‘In God We Trust’—the official motto of the United States—on Bakersfield Police Department cars is a testament to each officer’s commitment to upholding the rule of law and defending the City of Bakersfield and its residents.”
Before the vote a debate took place, according to Bakersfield Californian, and for the next two hours 30 public speakers voiced their opinions on the issue, with 19 speakers against adding the decals, and 11 in favor.
What do you think? They had a two-hour debate over the decision in which 19 speakers opposed the decals and 11 spoke in favor of them. https://t.co/3EjqKNqxOq
— NBC Los Angeles (@NBCLA) June 6, 2019
Ultimately, only two council members voted against the issue, Willie Rivera and Andrea Gonzales. Bruce Freeman, another council member, was not present during the voting.
Both council members who voted against the decals wanted to stress that they didn’t want to frame this issue as a problem with religion, but merely a problem with city policy.
“I think it’s clear this decision doesn’t represent everybody in this community and I think this is a problem,” Rivera said.
The American Civil Liberties Union attorney, Jordan Wells, said that putting the “In God We Trust” decals would be bad for public policy, echoing Rivera’s opinions.
“Unlike God, police officers are fallible. Their conduct should be scrutinized by the public, and when they overstep their authority, we must insist on accountability.”
Gonzales, who also voted against the decals, is a Christian, and according to him, he believes that God is far more than just a bumper sticker on a police car.
Sullivan has offered to pay for the decals through her non-profit organization, In God We Trust America, according to Fox News.
It was Bakersfield’s pastor and police department chaplain, Angelo Frazier, who proposed the idea. He said that he had seen police vehicles in Texas and Arkansas bearing the motto.
Watch Live: Pastor Angelo Frazier to go before Bakersfield City Council in regards to putting ‘In God We Trust’ decals on police cars https://t.co/0Y88FjuUvZ
— 23ABC News (@23ABCNews) May 23, 2019
“I’m doing this from the right heart. I’m not against anyone. I’m encouraging people that there is something bigger than us. I just happen to call it God,” Frazier said. “[My hope] is that the community comes out and speaks because whatever the council decides, I’m okay with that. This is not about me. This is more about us as a community.”