I’m not the kind of man who is afraid to ask questions. I got my bachelor’s degree in journalism and spent my share of time asking Helen Vunderbrundt detailed questions about her exciting time spent excavating stone blade fragments in the hinterlands.
Generally speaking, approaching police officers and asking them a question is … unwise. Even if you’re a sober, drug-free white person with no criminal record.
So, shortly after being relocated to Charlotte in June 2011, the logo I saw on the numerous Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department cruisers I saw in the Ballantyne area raised a question. What the hell is that?
It was, by far, the strangest logo I’d ever seen on a police car. Shields, badges, stars, arrows and castles– I was familiar with those.
But what was that thing? The first thought I had was the Tasmanian Devil. It made sense, after all, even if you count the fact that we are thousands and thousands of miles from Tasmania. All I could see when I saw a police cruiser was this thing – followed by some graphic lines to represent movement.
(Coincidentally, the island of Tasmania does have a similar outline to the “tornado” shape of the Tasmanian devil and the CMPD logo.)
Then it finally happened. I was stuck at a red light off of Rea Road, near my house. To my left, a CMPD cruiser pulled up – I glanced over to see if the police officer driving it was aware that I had just taken the previous exit ramp at approximately 7,000 miles per hour. Luckily he seemed absorbed in whatever was being displayed on the laptop computer mounted on his dashboard. An educated guess says it was Netflix. A shot-in-the-dark guess says it was Downton Abbey. Either way, I took the opportunity to stare at the logo on his car.
It was a long red light. Is it a tornado? A weird, artistic shield? Maybe it’s a spinning drill bit? Or perhaps a realistic human heart? A Diamond sitting inches under the surface of a running stream?
The light turned green and I was roused from my mental coma by the sound of a horn from a black Mercedes GL320 piloted by a 5’1″ housewife who lives her life indoors but has the tan of a migrant farm worker (that’s the insult.) Still, the plastic surgery she’d bravely endured was top notch and was barely noticeable (that’s the compliment.)
I successfully managed my ADD long enough to remember to do a Wikipedia search when I got home. That didn’t work, so I tried the CMPD Web site. Lastly, I did a raw Google search. Still no answers. Finally I resorted to Facebook where I was informed, almost immediately, that it was a hornet’s nest. The reference comes from a quote by General Cornwallis during the Revolutionary War that described Charlotte as a “hornet’s nest.”
Of course I was aware the Charlotte used to be home to the NBA’s Hornets. I grew up during the Starter Jacket era – I know what I’m talking about. But that said – do we really want our law enforcement officers to be known as hornets? In a world where police brutality is increasingly get caught on video and uploaded to YouTube – do they really want to be associated with the mental image of “Piss one of us off and the rest will swarm on you and sting you until you’re dead” ?
I’m not saying I want the CMPD to switch their logo to a cute puppy pouncing on a moth – but Hornets aren’t really known for their personality.
So how about this, CMPD, change your mascot to the Tasmanian Devil. You can bolster your image as having a fast response time and you won’t even have to change your logo.