PATASKALA, Ohio (WCMH) — A father’s fight to fly the Thin Blue Line flag in memory of his son, a police chief who was killed in the line of duty, has inspired a bill at the Ohio Statehouse.
Thomas DiSario received a Thin Blue Line flag in memory of his son Steven Eric DiSario, who was shot while responding to a call at a Kirkersville nursing home in 2017. He was killed along with two workers from the home.
Thomas DiSario told NBC4 in May: “The only time it comes down if it’s worn out and I buy a new one and put it back up.” When he was told by his homeowners association in Pataskala to take it down, he refused. After hearing about DiSario’s situation, neighbors began to fly the Thin Blue Line flag in support.
Rep. Kevin Miller (R-Newark) joined Rep. Tim Ginter (R-Salem) to introduce HB 712 which would add the Thin Blue Line flag to the list of flags that homeowners and condominium association must allow. If passed, it would join the POW, MIA, military, and American flags also in this category.
Miller recalls attending Steven Eric DiSario’s funeral. At the time, he was the Licking County post commander for Ohio State Highway Patrol.
“That flag is about his son who gave his life in the line of duty,” Miller said. “That’s something that’s very special to him and we’re just looking to protect that.
“For me and my joint sponsor Rep. Ginter, this is all about honoring those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Supporting those who currently are serving as our police officers, and it’s also about promoting the profession as well. We’re having significant problems with retention and recruitment.”
Miller said he purposely kept the bill narrow.
“For those that wish to get another type of flag added to the exemptions, they can offer a bill and try to push that through the General Assembly if that’s their wish,” he said
The same bill was introduced by Ginter and considered by the 132nd General Assembly, where it saw bipartisan support in the House but ran out of time in the Senate.
National Police Association attorney James Bopp filed a federal suit under the First Amendment against an HOA on behalf of a homeowner who wants to fly the Thin Blue Line flag.
“It’s really courageous people that come forward and are prepared to say, ‘Well, this law’s not right. I have a right to fly a flag,'” Bopp said. “We are just very happy that the Ohio legislature is recognizing the need to permit people to do this.”
Thomas DiSario, who has been involved in litigation with the homeowners association, was unable to comment for this article.