By Portia Williams
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. — The Greenup County Sheriff’s Department (GCSD) vehicles now bear bumper stickers which read, “In God We Trust.” According to GCSD Deputy Larry Panckake, the majority of feedback received on their has been positive affirmations.
“We have been getting phone calls in support. About 98 percent of the public has been in support of it. In fact, a lady called here this morning wanting to know if she could buy one off of us for her car,” Pancake said. “People were stopping us on the street thanking us when we were putting them on and expressing their support.”
He said the idea to put the bumper stickers on came from a news story the he and Sheriff Keith Cooper viewed.
“The sheriff and I saw on the news where people were complaining about a sheriff in Missouri that had the words ‘In God We Trust’ and people were complaining telling them that they had to take that off,” he said. “And so I went to the sheriff and suggested to him that we do that, because he’d mentioned it a long time ago.”
The GCSD has also received resistance from those who argue the inscription, “In God We Trust” for a local governmental agency is in violation of separation of church and state, according to the U.S. Constitution.
“We did get a call from a guy from Ohio who said he represented all atheists, I believe he said he was a professor, or something over there. He argued that it was against church and state,” he said. “As far as church and state goes, there is nothing illegal about it. When Thomas Jefferson developed the separation of church and state, it requires someone to perform some kind of religious activity, all we’re doing is just making a statement, and there is a big difference. It has nothing to do with separation of church and state.”
According to Pancake, all of the sheriff department’s vehicles, which is about 20 vehicles, have the bumper stickers.
“And so he (Sheriff Cooper) set it up, and ordered them, and put it on all of the cars. It is on all of our cruisers,” he said.
One person from the community called the sheriff’s department to place an order for the popularized bumper sticker.
The Sheriff’s’s Department Facebook page has exploded with user “likes” and comments after the photograph with one of the vehicles was uploaded onto the page.
“I took the picture and put it on our Facebook page, and have had all kinds of comments, and over 30,000 views,” he said. “There were some people who didn’t like it, and had a lot of negative things to say, but more than most were in support of it.”
The bumper stickers for the GCSD vehicles were designed by Quality Signs in Flatwoods, Ky. Greg Dillow, owner of Quality Signs, said they have been receiving calls from people wanting to order the same bumper sticker for their own vehicles.
“This has happened through Facebook. One of my wife’s friends contacted her and ordered a couple of them, and then I have had some calls about it this morning,” Dillow said. “I like it. I told someone that I wish that I could give them away for free, but unfortunately I can’t do that.”
He said the cost of the bumper sticker varies, and is contingent primarily upon the size of the vehicle.
“The ones that fit the sheriff’s cars may not fit something else,” Dillow said.
He said the response has taken him by surprise.
“I have been making signs for 30 some years, but it is mostly custom-made stuff that takes weeks and days, it’s not the quick turn around stuff that could be little bit of a challenge,” Dillow said.
In regard to the bumper stickers on the Greenup County Sheriff’s Department vehicles, Dillow said he does not know what is going to happen.
Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.