Skull Logo Used Unofficially By Winnebago County Sheriff's Deputies Sparks Controversy

Aug 31, 2017

Two Winnebago County sheriff’s deputies were ordered to stop handing out unofficial business cards featuring a skull logo that a black woman considered racist.  

The deputies gave Rockford resident Laverne Huggins the card, which features a skull logo on both sides, on December 1, 2015, when they asked her about a relative who may have been involved in a crime.

Huggins was charged with resisting arrest and obstruction of justice because deputies claimed she lied about her connection to their suspect.

The Register Star reports Huggins wants the charges dropped because the logo reminded her of "death, hatred, poison and danger" and looked like Nazi symbols.  She also claims the officers lacked a warrant.  

Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana approved unofficial use of the logo two years ago by the Tactical Unit, which handles human trafficking, gang, and narcotics cases.  The deputies claim the logo is meant to promote brotherhood within the unit and honor military veterans. However, it's also similar to the logo of private company UM Tactical, as well as The Punisher, a comic-book vigilante known for his frequent use of lethal force.  

Caruana says the business cards were "not official" and should have been approved by their deputy chief. A spokesman for the Illinois ACLU said the image "is an attempt to frighten and intimidate, rather than protect and serve."

Rockford Police Chief Dan O'Shea also noted that none of the city's specialized units use a similar kind of logo.  Mayor Tom McNamara added that a city priority is improving police-community relations. 

Huggins said she plans to file an excessive force suit against the Tactical Unit.