NJ Congressmen Defend Thin Blue Line

A commemorative sign outside the Hillsborough Municipal Building dedicated to the Thin Blue Line. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Township officials, employees and police gather at the Hillsborough Municipal Building for the dedication of the thin blue line painted on the interior roadway at the complex. Credits: Courtesy Hillsborough Township

WASHINGTON - Two New Jersey congressmen have taken up the cause of several New Jersey municipalities, including Hillsborough, proposing the Blue Line Use Exception Act, legislation that would permit thin blue lines to be displayed on roadways in support of local police.

Reps. Leonard Lance (R-7th) and Bill Pascrell (D-9th) introduced the BLUE proposal on Tuesday, Jan. 17.

“One hundred thirty five police officers died in the line of duty in 2016.  Seeing those faces on the news has been heartbreaking.  And events like the mass killing of Dallas police officers last year are sickening and outrageous," Lance said. "Local communities should be able to honor law enforcement without the federal government’s telling them no.  We should honor police personnel all year, especially as we celebrate Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. Our bill will let local New Jersey communities keep their ‘blue line’ dedications,” he added.   

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Pascrell, co-chair of the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus, will lead the legislation with Lance.

“I can assure the U.S. Department of Transportation that there is no confusion on the meaning of the painted blue line across many communities in New Jersey," Pascrell said, referring to a directive from the DOT that said the blue lines could be confused with the blue color used to designate handicapped parking spaces.

"In addition to being a daily reminder of the dangers our brave law enforcement officers face, it is a small show of support to honor their hard work and dedication to keeping our community safe. I am proud to introduce the BLUE Act with Congressman Lance to ensure communities are able to take an easy and safe way to recognize the dedication of law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day.”

‘Blue lines’ have become a popular display some municipalities have installed on roadways to show support for law enforcement.

Hillsborough and some other municipalities have chosen to paint their thin blue lines on interior roadways on municipal property to avoid conflict with local, state and national traffic laws. 

The Federal Highway Administration recently wrote a letter to Somerset County officials stating ‘blue lines’ displays are in violation of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways.  Lance and Pascrell,  members of the Law Enforcement Caucus, think that directive is an overreaction and their legislation will add an exemption to the federal manual that says temporary ceremonial displays can be permitted. 

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