Fact Check

Florida Sheriff Won't Remove 'In God We Trust' from Police Cars Despite Complaint?

"Stand your ground, sir," a Facebook user commented.

Published Sept. 6, 2023

 (brevardsheriff.com)
Image Via brevardsheriff.com
Claim:
Sheriff Wayne Ivey of the Brevard County Sheriff's Office refused to remove an "In God We Trust" decal from his officers' patrol cars.

In August and September 2023, multiple Facebook pages shared a headline with a link to a dated controversy concerning law enforcement and the state of Florida. The headline read, "Sheriff Won't Remove 'In God We Trust' From Police Cars After Many Complain."

The Facebook posts asked users to click on a link in the comments. The link under each post led to the same article on multiple websites, including lajthiza.info, moralstory.press, sharesplosion.com, and cosmohost.info, to name a few.

According to the story, Sheriff Wayne Ivey of the Brevard County Sheriff's Office had defended a decision to include decals on his officers' patrol cars with the words "In God We Trust," a phrase that also appears on Florida's state seal:

The city of Brevard County is dealing with a controversial situation.

The sheriff's department is being instructed to remove a familiar slogan from their vehicles.

The phrase "In God We Trust" is commonly placed onto the sheriff's department vehicles.

However, there are many people within Brevard County and the state of Florida who do not agree with this slogan. They want the sheriff's department to remove the phrase from community police vehicles. However, Sheriff Wayne Ivey doesn't agree with this move. 

This story is true. However, these events transpired in October 2019. The many Facebook pages and websites that republished this news in August and September of 2023 did not make note of the fact that the story was nearly four years old.

The story originally began in late October 2019, when Brevard County's own SpaceCoastDaily.com published a story penned by Ivey himself. In the article, he announced that the new look of his officers' patrol cars was inspired by a "very proud veteran":

While our vehicles will continue to include the iconic "Shuttle" design in honor of our Space Center history, they will now also include new graphics of an American Flag and the phrase "In God We Trust" that are both prominently displayed on each unit.

...

The suggestion for the patriotic theme was submitted from a citizen, a very proud veteran who made mention of the idea after sharing with me how proud he is of our agency and how passionately we support our veterans.

The idea was then presented to other members of our outstanding active, reserve and veteran military community who all loved the idea and new design.

This news was also published on Ivey's Facebook page:

Days later, on Nov. 7, Fox News reported that an atheist group had called into question the new patrol car decals. The headline read, "Florida sheriff defends 'In God We Trust' decal on patrol cars after atheists complain."

According to the Fox News story, the group that challenged the decals was the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF):

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) argues the new "patriotic" decal, suggested by a local military veteran, is "frightening and politically dubious" in a letter to the Brevard County Sheriff's Office, but Sheriff Wayne Ivey isn't backing down.

"They have a better chance of me waking up thin tomorrow morning than they do of me taking that motto off our cars!" Ivey told Fox News. "I personally believe that our country is at a tipping point, and if we, as strong patriotic Americans, don't stand for the principals of our great nation, we are going to lose the America we all know and love!"

"I can assure you that the proud men and women of our agency are forever unwavering in our support of the constitution and the principles of our amazing country," the sheriff added.

Nearly four years later, in September 2023, Ivey was still the sheriff of the Brevard County Sheriff's Office and the decals were still displayed on the officers' vehicles.

Sources

"Brevard County Sheriff's Office." Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/BrevardCountySheriff/.

Ivey, Wayne. "Brevard County Sheriff's Office Replaces Their Patrol Fleet With New Patriotic Graphics." Space Coast Daily, 28 Oct. 2019, https://spacecoastdaily.com/2019/10/brevard-county-sheriffs-office-replaces-their-patrol-fleet-with-new-patriotic-graphics/.

"Meet the Sheriff: Wayne Ivey." Brevard County Sheriff's Office, https://www.brevardsheriff.com/home/meet-the-sheriff-wayne-ivey/.

Nachreiner-Mackesey, Bailey. "Florida Sheriff's Department Must Remove Religious Decals, FFRF Argues." Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), 30 Oct. 2019, https://ffrf.org/news/news-releases/item/36116-florida-sheriff-s-department-must-remove-religious-decals-ffrf-argues.

Parke, Caleb. "Florida Sheriff Defends 'In God We Trust' Decal on Patrol Cars after Atheists Complain." Fox News, 7 Nov. 2019, https://www.foxnews.com/us/florida-sheriff-god-atheist-complain.

"State Seal." Florida Department of State, https://dos.myflorida.com/florida-facts/florida-state-symbols/state-seal/.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.