Are "Thin Blue Line" License plates ethical?

My friend told me the thin blue line license plates are only obtainable by law enforcement and that unless a car with these plates/stickers was driving wrecklessly, other law enforcement members would look away for most driving infractions, including speeding.

This site , ,seems to verify her claim that only LE can obtain official products. Notice the disclaimer to the right requiring verification of current law enforcement status. A quick search on google turned up this site, , where toward the bottom La. Officer says (and I paraphrase) that these tags/stickers don’t get you special treatment but if he stops you and you have them and you aren’t LE he’s gonna write you up for whatever he can----which to me is a very clear indication that the official thin blue line products do get you special treatment. I’m guessing that La. Officer would not have stopped a person with these plates unless they had been driving wrecklessly.

Are these tags ethical? I believe they are not. They foster an “us” versus “them” feeling. They engender a feeling that justice is not blind; that, as the pigs said in ANIMAL FARM, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.

I thought about putting this in Great Debates but there isn’t anything great about it, and I’m not really a debater ----just wanted other opinions.

The Master speaks.

I hadn’t seen that one. But it doesn’t address this particular product. The linked article states that anyone could purchase that plate, but the site I listed specifically says they will verify LE status. Interesting column, though.

Ethical? I’m not following how that relates to “fostering an ‘us’ vs ‘them’ feeling”.

P.S. it’s RECKLESS. No ‘W’. :slight_smile:

One would hope driving would be wreck-less. :smack:

It doesn’t foster an “us” vs “them” in you, when you know there are tags that LE use to identify themselves and their families and will choose to overlook speeding for them but not for you because of these tags?

It relates to an “us” vs “them” thing because it should just be an “us” thing. We as a society give the authority to LE. If LE abuses this authority by favoring one of their own, it undermines our willingness to help them in other aspects of their duties.

Yes, I understood that, and I don’t disagree with your premise.

I just didn’t see it as “ethics”. I can’t really think of a word to describe it, tho.

ETA: Divisive?

Divisive is fine, assuming the tags are only used to identify LE to other LE. It seems to be an abuse of authority when it gets family members out of speeding tickets which I would qualify as unethical.

Funny, I’ve never heard of these things. Or ever seen one on a car.

Well, the plates themselves, if only used to signify LE status, seem ok. Kind of like a plate with your university logo on it, or “Actuarial Society of Ypsilanti” or something.

The abusive practice you mention is indeed unethical IMHO. One would hope that LE wouldn’t stoop so low.

We have several LE fraternal organizations here, and of course each one sells stickers etc. for your car. LE personnel I know tell me that they do not make exceptions for people with LE displays on their vehicle. They don’t seem to make exceptions for LE members of other jurisdictions either, for that matter.

Now I am pondering this: is divisiveness - doing something purposefully to foster an “us vs them” atmosphere - immoral? Hmmm.

I’ve never heard of these kind of plates, but I have seen “courtesy cards” that the police give out to their family and friends. When stopped by the police you give the card to the officer along with your driver’s license. (It’s a one-use-per-card type of thing, although you can have several of the cards.) There’s nothing saying that he “has to” honor it, but a lot of officers do. I’ve never heard of them being used for anything more serious than a traffic violation, i.e. not a get-out-of-jail card.

There are also “Fraternal Order of Police” stickers that show that you have donated to the police department fund-raisers. I’ve heard that those aren’t as likely to be honored (only hearsay evidence that they work at all), but may have some minimal effect if they were considering just letting you go with a warning anyway.

Personal experience? I’ve used a courtesy card twice, successfully, to get a warning instead of a ticket. I have a couple more but hope to never have to use them.

Unethical? I think it’s kind of borderline unethical. I’ve never used one to get out of anything major and have twice not used one (even though I had one), getting the ticket instead both times because I didn’t feel right about using one. The two times when I used one, I was in dire financial straits, and just couldn’t afford a ticket either time. But the law should be equally applied to everyone, and other people I’m sure have gotten tickets when they couldn’t afford it.

How did I get them? By doing some work as a favor to a friend of a friend who was a police officer. I didn’t ask for them, they were just given me in appreciation for the work I did for him.

I think it’s absolutely unethical, and is infact corrupt practice. Your friend, and anyone else who utilises “courtesy cards”, is a bent copper.

There is nothing AFAIK that makes possession of that kind of plate by non-LEOs illegal. So long as you do not try to impersonate an officer using one, you’re fine.

You can have a thin blue line plate on your car; you can have one that says screw the police with equal legality. The question of how you get treated when stopped should either plate is on your car is another matter entirely. You SHOULD NOT be treated any different, but we all know YMWV.

Am I the only one this linky is broken for?


I agree that the practice of issuing “courtesy cards” is unethical, but MisterThyristor’s use of it, err, not so much. That is, the clear abuser of authority is the LE agent. MisterThyristor may recognize the corruption, but an individual has very little power to change a corrupt system.

NinetyWt, it seems to me identifying LE to other LE differs from identifying university alumni to other alumni in that being a graduate for a university doesn’t grant you any particular authority over a fellow human being. We already have clear delineation of LE when they are acting in official capacity. I don’t see how indicating LE to other LE who are operating as civilians can do anything but create the appearance of a class of individuals who are above the law.

But you used the courtesy card anyway, despite your lip service to the law applying equally to everyone.

That’s pretty hypocritical behavior there. Other people who don’t have a ‘get out of jail free’ card from a bent copper have to pay the speeding ticket, whether they can afford it or not.

As the cliche goes, you do the dance, you pay the band. You should’ve taken your lumps.


Apparently there are a lot of cops who think that they and their families should be above the law.

You OBVIOUSLY don’t live in SEC territory.

Just kidding !

Given that I’ve never seen these plates on any vehicle (and neither has Loach - he rubs elbows with a LOT more LE than I care to), and never seen or heard of the ‘courtesty cards’ which Mister mentions, I’m begining to think that it must be a regional thing. So, also, the influence of the LE community in setting themselves apart from general society may also be a regional thing.

Apparently, then, in some areas the ‘thin blue line’ plate may be A Bad Thing, if the atmosphere is already one of ‘police are above the law’.

In other areas, it may be as innocuous as the University tags. (Except ‘Roll Tide’. That should be abolished!).

catsix, didn’t we have a thread about that a while back?

I have no idea what the plate the OP poster is talking about is. Perhaps I would recognize it if I see it.

Getting that out of the way…

I grew up as the daughter of police lieutenant and I couldn’t buy a ticket in that county. The basic premise was family gets away with just about anything short of murder. Unethical…sure but it was the reality.

Those “cards” are a dime a dozen and it would depend on the cop that pulled you over. We were issued small badges with the family members badge number on them. It was about the size of a half dollar.

The FOP stickers and phone solicitors are scams. The money doesn’t go to that organization at all. What they have is a person that donates a few thousand bucks and gets to collect using that name for a designated amount of time. The drug addicted, chain smoking, phone men make the calls on a commission. They are not cops or associated with cops in anyway. They are not permitted to say they are cops but some do. Often they will go to businesses with a receipt and pocket any cash donation.

Yes, I have witnessed this room and this scam. Do not donate to these people. Whenever I see that little sticker on the back of the cars I automatically think…sucker.

There is a link to it in the OP.

It’s straightforwardly corrupt.

Yes. I meant on the street.