AUGUSTA — On Wednesday, April 10 Sen. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, introduced a bill to allow law enforcement officers and first responders to wear insignia to identify themselves as veterans. The bill, LD 1408, “An Act To Allow Law Enforcement Officers To Wear Insignia on Their Uniforms To Indicate That They Are Veterans,” received a public hearing before the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.
“The idea for this bill was brought to my attention by members of the Randall-Collins VFW in Belfast,” said Sen. Herbig. “Allowing officers to wear this insignia would recognize veterans for their service, make veterans feel welcomed into the field and could deescalate difficult situations between law enforcement and the public when they are fellow veterans.”
Currently, Maine law does not allow law enforcement officers and first responders to wear this insignia. Sen. Herbig’s bill would create the option for local police departments to allow their officers to wear the insignia.
Waldo County Sherriff Jeffrey Trafton spoke in support of Sen. Herbig’s bill.
“I recently dealt with a veteran experiencing severe alcoholism, who was involved in a traffic crash,” said Sherriff Trafton. “When police arrived at the scene, he would only talk to officers he knew were veterans of the military. Displaying our awards or ribbons on our uniforms would give us almost automatic credibility with this type of struggling veteran. That credibility could be instrumental in deescalating a veteran in crisis.”
LD 1408 faces further action in the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee as well as votes in the Maine House and Senate.