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Flag debate hits Belleville Police Department

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BELLEVILLE, IL (KPLR) – On Monday night about 100 people stood outside of Belleville city hall waving American flags because they believed the city's police chief wanted to remove the flag from officer uniforms. However, chief bob clay says that`s not true.

According to leaders of a Belleville patriotic group an officer released a July 7th internal memo from chief clay regarding a change to how the American flag patch is worn on uniforms. While some said it was a sign of disrespect. The chief spoke up at Monday nights city council meeting and said it’s about making the uniforms more uniform. Clay also says he consulted with the city and police union before updating the policy.

'Some of the employees within the department lied and released information and choose to tell the public that American flags would be removed from our uniforms . That would`ve been offensive to me and that was not the case.' said Clay

Bob Romanik who first heard about the changes says it's not needed. Belleville City Clerk Dallas Cook stood by Romanik's statements and agreed.

'If you take that flag off the shoulder patch you might as well burn it or put it in a drawer it shows disrespect and these clowns in Belleville want to show disrespect." said Romanik

'The chief has rescinded his memo and its optional to wear the flag, but I want it to be a mandatory part of the uniform.' said Cook

The group also says they want the flags at city hall and the county building at half staff to remember soldiers who were killed in the line of duty. The new uniform guidelines also give the option to wear 2 patches combining the flag and city. Officers can also wear the flag as a pin; the changes went into effect on July 17th.

Chief Clay also admits the timing was bad considering recent changes with the confederate flag across the country.