It’s a derogatory nickname – we all know what it is – that police officers have always hated. But imagine the frustration and surprise of police officers in Vermont who discovered they were sporting the subliminal epithet on their own patrol cars, thanks to a prank by prison inmates who make decals for police cars.
The embarrassing situation got its start in 2008, according to the Burlington Free Press, when an unknown (so far) prison artist at the Northwest State Correctional Facility modified the computer program for the official seal of the Vermont State Police. The prison’s Vermont Correctional Industries Print Shop is run by inmates and makes state police seals.
The inmate changed a spot on the shoulder of a cow in the emblem to resemble a pig, a ‘60s-era epithet for police officers. State police ordered 16-inch door decals that included the altered image.
Officials believe 60 altered decals were made, Vermont Corrections Commissioner Andy Pallito told the newspaper. As many as 30 state police patrol cruisers used the decal. Some new cruisers have two of the defective decals, while older cruisers may have only one if a door was replaced.
Authorities became aware of the problem in February after a sharp-eyed police safety supervisor spotted the altered decals. They have placed an order for new decals and plan to destroy defective emblems.
Officials began an investigation into who was responsible for altering the decals. The $780 cost of printing new decals will come out of the profit the prison printing shop receives for making stationery, license plates and other items for the state.
Vermont officials are trying to take the incident in stride. In the end, the joke may have been on the mischievous inmate artist. “If the person had used some of that creativeness, he or she would not have ended up inside,” Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn told the Free Press.