- Associated Press - Thursday, May 4, 2017

BLUE MOUND, Ill. (AP) - “In God We Trust,” the official motto of the United States for more than half a century, has found its way onto a police cruiser in the small village of Blue Mound.

Although that kind of adornment might stir up controversy in some quarters, it has not met with any opposition thus far in the farming community of about 1,000 residents.

The village owns the police vehicle, a 2017 Ford Explorer, and also pays for the services of a deputy of the Macon County Sheriff’s Department, as the result of an agreement signed in 2015.

Last summer, while the nation was experiencing turmoil as a result of shootings of police officers, police-involved shootings and numerous demonstrations, Blue Mound Village President Ken Ervin had the idea to place the nation’s motto on the vehicle. He had seen a photo of a police vehicle, somewhere out west, which displayed the well-known phrase.

“I liked the idea,” Ervin said. “I called Sheriff Tom Schneider. I asked him if it would be all right to put it on the car.”

He responded by saying he not only liked the idea, but would like to see the slogan put on all the county’s police vehicles, except that it would not be financially feasible.

It was discovered that there would be no cost to add “In God We Trust” just to the Blue Mound vehicle, because the work would be included in the general painting of the vehicle to add police markings.

Ervin said he was especially moved because of the shootings of many officers throughout the nation.

“I thought it was a good reason to show our support for all the fallen police officers,” said Ervin, who is completing his first term as village president this year and running for re-election April 4. “I feel that our nation needs to get a little closer to God. We have been moving away from that.

“I feel sorry for anyone that gets killed. I think it would be uplifting for a family member or friend of a fallen police officer to see this.”

When Ervin brought the proposition to the village board, it was unanimously approved, 6-0. Because he only votes in tie-breaking situations, he did not vote on it. He has never had to vote during his term.

Ervin, a Methodist, has been pleased at the response from residents.

“Everyone in Blue Mound has supported it,” he said. “Not one person has said anything against it. We have had other deputies who have praised it, said they wanted it on their squad cars, too. In my book every squad car should have it on there, whether it is state or city or county.”

Schneider said he thinks it’s a great idea to include the motto on the cruiser.

“‘In God We Trust,’ I support 100 percent,” Schneider said, adding that he would love to emblazon each of the sheriff’s vehicles with the phrase. “Right now, with the budget constraints it would cost too much money. I have to decide I can’t do it at this time.

“Our great nation was founded on this great principle. I applaud the village president for the decision to move forward and have it placed on the car.”

Sheriff’s Lt. Jon Butts said there are no legal reasons to prevent a police agency from placing the nation’s motto on a government vehicle.

“It conveys a message of caring, compassion, trust,” Butts said. “I know it’s only words on a squad car, but it means people can also trust the officer who drives it, trust in the system.”

The words represent an acknowledgement of divine protection for the officer in the vehicle.

“It’s more than just words on the car. It’s our belief,” Butts said. “I think it’s important to have that to send a very positive message to people of all faiths.”

Anne Byard, a resident of Blue Mound for most of her life, said she sees absolutely nothing wrong with having the slogan put on the police car.

“It’s nice to know that our governing people are putting their trust in God, too,” said Byard, who was born and raised in the village, spending some years away while her late husband served in the military.

The person who spends the most time with the vehicle is deputy Matthew Jedlicka, who took over as the officer covering Blue Mound on Feb. 1.

Jedlicka, a deputy since 2004, said he “naturally liked” the motto on the vehicle, because he is a member of a Catholic parish in Decatur who believes that God plays a key role in his life.

“I think it’s pretty special that they decided to do that,” Jedlicka said. “I wasn’t part of that decision. I will take all the help I can get.”

He said people don’t talk to him about the motto on his vehicle, but he thinks it resonates with them because of the kind of community that they have.

“It’s a town that has welcomed me with open arms. A lot of people have treated me well, treated me like family,” Jedlicka said. “The residents of Blue Mound, when they see those four words on the back of the car, I think it resonates with them.”

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Source: (Decatur) Herald & Review, https://bit.ly/2o4Z9Bg

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Information from: Herald & Review, https://www.herald-review.com

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