Solvay, NY - The Solvay police department are refusing to remove decals of The Punisher, a vigilante comic book character, from their vehicles, a department lieutenant said Wednesday afternoon after complaints about the symbol.
"The Punisher symbol on the patrol vehicles of the Solvay Police Department, while similar to the symbol featured in Marvel comics, is our way of showing our citizens that we will stand between good and evil," the statement from Chief Allen Wood and Lt. Derek Osbeck said.
The Punisher is a popular Marvel comic book character, with an upcoming Netflix series release, who exacts punishment in the form of murder, kidnapping, extortion, and torture on those he deems guilty in his war on crime -- the Punisher essentially acts as judge, jury and executioner.
Despite this reality, the police department have no intention of removing the decals from their vehicles, Lt. Osbeck said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon with Syracuse.com.
"There would be no reason to," he said. "Why would we remove it?"
Perhaps one good reason would be the fact that during a similar controversy earlier this year in Kentucky, Punisher co-creator Gerry Conway weighed in on Twitter, explaining why his anti-hero Frank Castle shouldn’t be a model for police -- specifically noting that he was "morally compromised" and "not to be emulated by cops."
“If a cop killed an innocent man and tried to cover it up, Frank might not hesitate to kill him. Not someone police should root for. As Castle himself said in my recent Punisher Annual story, ‘I’m not a good man.'”
Further explaining the depth of the problem as it relates to our modern policing paradigm, sociologist Matthew Hughey told Salon:
The Punisher employs such tactics as threats, extortion, coercion, blackmail, kidnapping, torture and murder to achieve his ends. Over the last few decades, American police forces are increasingly being caught (even more so on camera) using these very same vigilante tactics and are criticized for acting as through they are the law (rather than being servants of the law). The use of the Punisher as an avatar by local police departments and other law enforcement agencies may also worsen the well-documented psychological phenomenon where police are faster to shoot African-Americans than they are whites. It is reasonable to suggest, therefore, that the adoption of a vigilante killer’s logo (who murders with impunity and without consequence) could worsen and entrench this already extant pattern.
In spite of the clear disconnect between what The Punisher represents, and the job police are expected to fulfill within society, the Solvay police are resolute in their decision to use the symbol on their police vehicles.
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"There is no vigilante justice that takes place in our community or within our department," the statement said. "The insinuation is insulting to those that stand up against evil and are willing to fight for and protect those that are in need."
The thin blue line symbol on the decal shows the department believes in the unity and support of police nationwide, the statement said.
"There is clearly a war on police and the criminal element attempting to infiltrate and destroy our communities, lifestyles and quality of living requiring men and women willing to stand up to evil and protect the good of society," the statement said.
On Tuesday, Solvay Mayor Ron Benedetti said that he hadn’t been informed of the decals before they were placed on the police vehicles.
"I'm looking into this and if I feel it's inappropriate it will be coming off," Benedetti said.
In the Kentucky case, police chief Cameron Logan of the Catlettsburg Police Department removed the car decals after receiving several phone calls admonishing the department’s use of the logo. Logan said he regrets using the image and said in the future he’d do “a little more research” on the history behind some of Blue Lives Matter’s more popular icons.
The Punisher clearly represents a force that will not hesitate to kill those he personally deems criminal, without the need for evidence, a defense or trial – for all intents and purposes he is the antithesis of justice.
Is this really what Mayor Benedetti wants his police force to represent?
If you want to let Mayor Benedetti know your feelings regarding his police force's use of The Punisher imagery on police vehicles you can contact him using the information below, provided on the Village of Solvay website.