WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Is it a “Back the Blue” display or simply there to honor a fallen comrade? Firefighters in Ogdensburg say it’s the latter.
Lighting up the Ogdensburg Fire Department building in blue touched a nerve. Some questioned if it was a political display for “Back the Blue.” Firefighters say it’s no such thing.
“We did it to pay honor and tribute to the late Sgt. Scott Reed. He’s a friend, dear friend of the fire department and our families,” said Jason Bouchard, Ogdensburg Professional Firefighters Local 1799 president.
Reed was found dead at his home August 13. He was an 18-year veteran of the Ogdensburg Police Department.
“It was never our intention to make any kind of political statement,” said Bouchard.
City Manager Stephen Jellie said a few calls were received questioning the display. Tuesday, he ordered it taken down.
“The city of Ogdensburg, while people are on duty, government facilities, government equipment, etc., we don’t take any political position whatsoever,” he said.
But after a social media uproar and talking with firefighters, Jellie now says it can stay until September 12.
It’s the latest in a string of controversies in the city. The city council voted to eliminate four police jobs in May. That prompted a strong reaction in Ogdensburg and that’s when some of the first blue lights went up around town.
That’s when they first went on at Suzanne Masters house. Since the death of Sgt. Reed, they’ve added to the display.
“I know that not only are those officers that we have in Ogdensburg dealing with the normal day-to-day, but now they’ve lost one of their brothers in blue,” said Masters.
Controversies figure to continue in Ogdensburg. A new police chief still must be chosen and a move to require the chief to live in the city is meeting with opposition.