TOMS RIVER, NJ – A thin blue line appeared painted between the solid yellow lines of Hooper Avenue in Toms River’s downtown area. The line was painted from Washington Street northward past the Ocean County Justice Complex.
County commissioners reject request to paint blue line
The line appeared after county officials rejected the idea proposed by Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy to paint a thin blue line in honor of police officers.
The county commissioners rejected that idea, saying it goes against state DOT guidelines. A county official has said the county commissioners are also concerned about drawing the attention of protesters and Black Lives Matter rallies if they approved the request.
Instead, Ocean County Commissioner Gary Quinn said the board will honor police officers by lining the road with pro-police flags.
Who painted the blue line?
The blue line appeared Tuesday morning and was promptly removed by the county commissioners.
The Toms River Police Department acknowledged the line was painted, but have no suspects. Prior to the line being painted, police said there was chatter on social media pages to go ahead and paint the line after Quinn, Virginia Haines and the Board of Commissioners rejected the request by Mastronardy.
The identity of the painter is known by county law enforcement as video surveillance of the area. Sheriff Michael Mastronardy today confirmed his department has identified the vehicle’s owner.
Who removed the blue line?
Within hours after being notified that the line was painted on Hooper Avenue, the county commissioners and county executives shut down Hooper Avenue on Tuesday and began removing the line. Commissioner Quinn was briefed and ordered the line removed.
Quinn, Haines, and the commissioners continue to argue against the blue line citing state laws, but other blue lines in the county have been approved such as the one on West Veterans Highway in Jackson, approved by the county commissioners several years ago, according to Mayor Michael Reina who said at the time, he requested the line painted in front of the Jackson Justice Complex.
America’s battle against the blue line
The war being raged in America against police officers is alive and well at the Jersey Shore. This month, the Holmdel council said it will be removing a similar line it that town.
Since last May, blue lines in communities that represent pride in their police department and law enforcement have been criticized. Opponents say the lines represent systemic racism, white power and police brutality. Many communities have cowered to the cancel culture against police blue lines. The Ocean County commissioners don’t want to draw attention to the issue either.
Many cities across America have painted similar roadwork memorials. Many cities have rainbow-colored intersections in support of LGBTQ and after the George Floyd riots, many have added “Black Lives Matter” roadway paintings. One of those paintings is on Martin Luther King Boulevard in Atlantic City.
This week, the city announced it was removing it.
The Future of Ocean County’s Blue Line
The line has now been painted over. The blue line is once again a black line. The county has continued to deny the Sheriff’s request to paint the line. The commissioners will vote next week on a measure to add flags in support of police officers to the road in front of the Justice Complex.