Behind the Thin Blue Line

Behind the Thin Blue Line

Posted by Hayley Adams on May 26th 2022

Popularized by the distinctive black and white American flag with a thin blue line running across it, thin line flags are a beautiful way to support the everyday heroes in your community. The colored stripe represents the thin line between the public and the danger our local heroes hold at bay. While the history of the thin line flag started with supporting our brave policemen, today the flag had adopted many public service branches.

The History

While the Thin Blue Line flag dates back only to 2014, the term was initially used in 1911 in a poem by Nels Dickmann Anderson referring to the United States Army.

In the1950s, the Los Angeles Police Department coined the term “thin blue line” as the barrier between law and order. In the 1970's, with the increase of urban police and sympathetic media, the term had begun to spread to police departments all across the U.S. in support of their safety and bravery. It wasn't until about 10 years later that the phrase had gone fully mainstream due to the release of the documentary, “The Thin Blue Line”.

The Thin Blue Line

Dallas Police Sgt. Stephen Bishopp has a doctorate degree and has studied police stress, use of force, and officer misconduct. To him, it symbolizes respect and understanding for the families of officers killed in the line of duty, including suicides.

“When I see that flag as a sticker on a car or flying in someone’s yard, I know that there is someone there that knows what I’m going through. They know because they are a part of the family,” Bishopp said. “I don’t really care if it bothers people or hurts their feelings to see that flag. I absolutely could care less. I am proud of what I do, the people I work with, and the ones who have died defending the rights of strangers. I will continue to fly that flag until my very last day.”

Other Thin Line Flags

In addition to the police, there are now other public service branches have adopted thin line colors of their own, including

  • The Thin Red Line is representative of all the brave Firefighters
  • The Thin White Line is representative of our EMTs, Paramedics, and All EMS personnel
  • The Thin Green Line is representative of all Federal Agents
  • The Thin Gold Line is representative of Emergency Dispatchers
  • The Thin Silver Line (Gray Line) is representative of Corrections Officers
  • The Thin Orange Line is representative of all Search and Rescue Personnel

For more supporting flag options, head over to!

A Thin Line flag is manufactured as a Thin Line flag and is not an alteration of the US Flag, therefore is not in violation of the US Flag Code. If you legally acquire a US flag by purchase or gift, then alter, deface or desecrate that US flag, then you are in violation of the US Flag Code.