Hennepin County Faces Criticism for Following Flag Protocol

Created: 12/06/2012 1:30 PM KSTP.com By: Jennie Olson

After Cold Spring Officer Tom Decker was killed in the line of duty last week, Gov. Mark Dayton ordered that all flags be flown at half-staff Wednesday, the day of his funeral.

But some Minnesotans have expressed outrage that some counties, including Hennepin County, didn’t immediately lower their flags as requested.

According to Hennepin County Property Services Head Judy Hollander, the county must follow federal mandates set by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. The Flag Code says that governors can only order flags be flown at half-staff after the death of a present or former government official or a member of the Armed Forces killed on active duty. Otherwise flags are to be flown at half-staff on Peace Officers Memorial Day.

After receiving a message from a passionate caller, the Hennepin County administration decided to lower flags around noon Wednesday, saying it seemed to be the right thing to do for the community.

A Hennepin County spokesperson said the situation can be tricky because they are technically supposed to follow the federal protocol. When they put flags at half-staff for officers, some argue that it dilutes the point of lowering flag. When they don’t, it seems insensitive to the local community.

County officials say it’s something they’re looking into. They say they have lowered it for other officers in the past as well.