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DMV rejects Army veteran ex-cop’s ‘BLUTHINL’ plate request

Thin Blue Line

Former cop and U.S. Army veteran Scott Parkhurst had no problem procuring a personalized license plate “OFFASIR” on his Triumph 750 motorcycle which he has “driven around forever.” And the Napa resident had no resistance in obtaining a personalized plate for one automobile, “10CODES,” which identifies him as a cop to other officers.

So Parkhurst figured that when he applied for “BLUTHINL” — Blue Thin Line — that the California Dept. of Motor Vehicles would have no problem confirming the application.

How wrong he was.

Though Parkhurst said his March request was initially granted by the DMV — a letter confirms it, stating his plates would “be ready in six to nine weeks” — he found the state vehicle regulators did a 360, rejecting BLUTHINL as “offensive … and threatening” in a letter the retired 20-year veteran received last week.

“I was shocked and hurt and felt my freedom of speech and expression was ripped from my gut,” Parkhurst said. “It wasn’t just a slap in my face, but every current and former police officers’ face.”

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Parkhurst said he applied for BLUTHINL “before all this (social unrest) happened” and that he has nothing against Black Lives Matters “or anyone’s expression to speak on anything. But for the state of California or anyone for that matter to say I can’t display BLUTHINL is beyond me. And it’s not even spelled out.”

The DMV letter with no individual’s signature claimed “the department strives to support the diversity of California culture and the idea of free expression,” but rejected the application because “it may be considered offensive, which could be misleading, or in conflict with existing license plates.” The DMV went to claim that BLUTHINL “may be considered threatening, aggressive or hostile.”

The DMV added that Parkhurst’s $53 would be refunded within 60 to 90 days.

According to Flagsofvalor.com, the first appearance of the Thin Blue Line dates back to the early 1900s when The United States Army marched into battle in their blue uniforms. Together, standing alongside, the soldiers formed a blue line, thus beginning the history we know today as the Thin Blue Line. In the 1950s, the blue line was adopted by law enforcement professionals to “represent their courage and sacrifice while protecting the American people.”

The Thin Blue Line emblem was established to symbolize all law enforcement personnel similar to the Red Cross symbol representing all medical personnel.

When Parkhurst went down to pick up the plates at the Napa DMV, he was told it would “be a few more weeks.”

“The state of California accepted this request,” Parkhurst said. “Then, last week, I get this letter that my license plate was ‘offensive and threatening.’ I’d like to know who came to this conclusion and, for some reason, felt threatened.”

The Times-Herald requested a statement by the DMV as requested at 12:45 p.m. Monday. As of 4:30 p.m., there was no response.

Congressman Mike Thompson’s office in Washington, D.C., said “this is a state issue and the DMV determines what is and isn’t acceptable.”

Sen. Bill Dodd was unavailable for comment.

Parkhurst said he “definitely” believes the plate was rejected because of current anti-law enforcement attitudes.

“They didn’t seem to have a problem with my other plates,” he said.

“I take this personally though I’m trying hard not to,” said Parkhurst, 62.

“Are they trying to say that if I was a civilian and I came up on a car that says BLUTHINL, that I would be threatened by that? I’m trying to figure out what’s threatening or offensive,” he said. “I’m trying really hard to myself in the shoes of the DMV’s position. It only means the person who is driving this vehicle supports police officers in general and their families. Just like a ‘BLM person’ supports Black Lives Matters.”

Parkhurst acknowledged that he could have said that BLUTHINL merely meant something like “Bluth in Love” “but I’m not going to lie,” he said, reiterating that it felt “like a punch to the stomach or slap in the face” when he opened the rejection letter.

Parkhurst was a police Bay Area police officer out of Burlingame High School before joining the U.S. Army as a combat medic, retiring after 20 years.

“My army experience was awesome and challenging. I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” Parkhurst said.

What Parkhurst won’t do is settle for an individual apology from DMV.

“This has to stop,” he said. “I want an apology to all officers. It didn’t just hurt me, it hurt all my brothers and sisters.”

Though believing he’s “not a sue-happy person,” Parkhurst said he will seek legal counsel.

“If they do this (reject his application) to me, they’ll do it to someone else,” Parkhurst said. “They can’t keep treating people like this. I have absolutely no faith in the DMV.”

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© 2020 Times-Herald