People who attended the Gettysburg city council meeting in person were met by the county sheriff’s wand to check for weapons before entering on Monday night. Another 25 people joined the meeting online. The majority were there to learn the fate of a police patch which included an image of a cannon with the crossed flags of the United States and a confederate flag.
Although the patch had been removed from the police department nearly a month ago, it has been a source of controversy for several years. It was put in place in 2009, but requests for its removal have been made since 2015.
Although it was kept in place by former police officers, Gettysburg Chief of Police Dave Mogard made the decision to remove it, with the backing of the city council. He said at the meeting that the patch was removed after a special meeting held on June 12. He also reported that the police department was given a $100 donation from a gentleman in Rapid City who is originally from Gettysburg to go toward a new patch.
One person spoke at the meeting in support of removing the patch. Shannon Johnson of Gettysburg told the council via Zoom that the medical center where she works does have traveling nurses who are of color and they mention it because it has become a nationally known story. Johnson said that she wished it would all disappear, to which Mayor Bill Wuttke said, “It’s been done.”
The only other public comment was made by Mark Bratten, who spoke in support of keeping the police patch. While admitting to the group that he is not a fan of the confederate flag, he said that there was no complaint of racism for all these years, and he saw the symbol as a sign of living together in harmony, and said that they shouldn’t cave in “to the left.”
A public statement signed by the police chief, the mayor, and all six members of the council, was read by the finance officer Sheila Schatz during the meeting. It stated: “Neither the City of Gettysburg, SD, nor the Gettysburg SD Police Department, have, or have had, any official patch, emblem, insignia, or logo.
The patch that has been the focus of media coverage in 2020 was applied in 2009 solely by the authority of the Office of Police Chief. This officer is no longer employed by the City of Gettysburg. The current Police Chief has used the same authority to remove this patch from all uniforms, vehicles, and buildings.”
It went on to welcome public comment during the meeting, but stated that it is the opinion of the council that no further action is required.
During the roundtable portion of the meeting, Chief of Police Mogard thanked the city council for supporting the department regarding the patch.