Baton Rouge cop told to remove 'HMFIC' patch from uniform
BATON ROUGE - A police lieutenant was asked to remove a patch he added to his uniform after appearing in a national magazine and then on a local news website in Chicago.
Baton Rouge Police Lt. Robert McGarner was profiled by People Magazine about being a black cop patrolling the streets in a city embroiled in controversy over the shooting death of Alton Sterling by police and then the ambush and murder of three lawmen in the weeks following Sterling's death. It was a picture of McGarner in uniform that got the attention of editors at WLS, a TV station covering the Chicago area.
People showed McGarner with a patch that had the letters "HMFIC" - an acronym commonly associated with the phrase "Head mother f---- in charge." WLS questioned the patch on the uniform of a police officer following national conversations about the militarization of officers in the wake of officer-involved shootings.
A Baton Rouge Police spokesperson said the letters, while easily associated with the expletive, suggested the letters meant "Head Military Figure in Charge" and paid homage to McGarner's time spent in the US Army.
WLS wrote in a story about the patch: "These days, even that more obscure military meaning might be equally as troublesome for police. Since the violence in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere, attention has been focused on police departments becoming too 'militarized' with the deployment of armored vehicles and battlefield weaponry to deal with civilian issues."
After questions about the patch, police said they advised McGarner "to remove that patch from his departmental issued vest so there is no confusion in the future."
About working the streets of Baton Rouge after a trying summer, McGarner told People: "At the end of the day, we all bleed the same. We’re all children of God. We have to put this stuff aside, so we can bring the city back the way it needs to be. We’re going to get better. I pray to God we’re going to get better."
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