HPD officers earn respect after handling of discarded flag

HEMET — A pair of Hemet police officers earned the appreciation, admiration, and respect of numerous area residents, who saw a recent social media post about the officers’ handling of an American flag they found wadded up in a ball and thrown on the floor of a Hemet home, last Friday, March 29.

Although the two officers – who both formerly served in the Marine Corps – later downplayed their handling of the situation and flag, their supervisors and citizens alike have praised the pair’s thoughtfulness to our country’s greatest and most iconic symbol.

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“The flag shown in the picture posted on our Facebook page was discovered by Hemet Police Sgt. Mouat and Det. Taitague while serving a search warrant,” Hemet Police Cpt. Brock recently told RCNS. “It was wadded up into a ball, in a manner unbefitting the flag of our nation.”

“Sgt. Mouat and Det. Taitague decided to ensure that it was cared for and gave it the respect it deserved by folding it properly,” explained Brock. Hemet PD later shared a photo and brief description on the department’s Facebook page.

Hemet Police Sgt. Mouat and Det. Taitague prepare to leave a properly folded US flag that they found “wadded up into a ball” and carelessly tossed on the floor of a Hemet home where the two former Marines had just served a search warrant. Hemet PD photo

After seeing Hemet PD’s post, both the San Jacinto VFW and Hemet’s American Legion Post 53 offered to properly retire the flag, in accordance with Title 36 of the United States Code and §176 (k), which states that when a flag is no longer a “fitting emblem for display,” it “should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”

Others asked that the department consider flying the flag over the station for at least one day before properly retiring it. However Brock later explained to RCNS, “After properly folding the flag, these former Marines left the flag at the location on a shelf, as it was not theirs to take.”

“Love it! Thank you guys for everything you do for all of us,” Hemet resident Jeff Walck later commented in part. “Your good deeds are not going unnoticed! Stay safe and thanks again!”

Many were quick to offer their gratitude for the officers’ current law enforcement and former military service, including Becky Adams, who wrote, “Thank you for your service gentlemen. And thank you for taking tender care of our country’s flag.”

Long-time Hemet resident Kay Polson was also among hundreds who commented, writing, “Thank you for taking your time to do the right, respectful thing. That is beyond your scope of duties, but appreciated greatly.”

HEMET PD IN OTHER NEWS: Community chuckling after police Cpt. responds to critical incident in 64-year-old squad car

After learning about his officers’ handling of the flag, Hemet Police Chief Robb Webb praised their actions, later telling RCNS, “We believe it is important to respect the flag of our nation for what it represents; the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

“Brave men and women have fought and died to defend our flag and the rights it was built on since the birth of our nation,” Webb continued. “For these officers to take a brief moment of their time to make certain that this flag was properly cared for is the least we can do to honor our history while looking forward to what we can be as a nation.”


Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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