The Smithtown public safety department has formally adopted the flag designed...

The Smithtown public safety department has formally adopted the flag designed by Park Ranger Michael Losee. Credit: Smithtown Department of Public Safety

A Smithtown Public Safety officer’s design for a department flag was formally adopted by the Town Council last week.

The emblem Park Ranger Michael Losee devised over the course of a few weeks and several drafts earlier this summer combines town founder Richard Smith’s family crest, dominated by a rearing bull with seven blue and white stripes for the town’s hamlets and five gold stars for the divisions of the department.

"I wanted something that, when we look at it, we feel a sense of honor and pride and togetherness with the community," said Losee, 35, a former member of the New York Air National Guard 106th Rescue Wing and Suffolk County park ranger who joined the town department five months ago.

Smithtown’s public safety department has Fire Prevention, Park Ranger, Investigation, Waterways and Navigation, and Emergency Management divisions. Its personnel perform some of the same functions as police.

"It is our hope that it will instill esprit de corps amongst department members," Tom Lohmann, public safety director, said in an email.

Police departments serving New York City and Suffolk County have their own flags, but representatives for a handful of Smithtown’s neighboring towns that operate their own public safety departments said they had no flags of their own.

Losee took edits on his work from Smithtown’s Sgt. Michael Nuzzo, the quartermaster in charge of department equipment, who last week was checking prices for a bulk purchase of flags of various sizes from a Melville supplier, Premier Flag & Banner, with prices ranging from $30 to $200 per flag.

Nuzzo said he envisioned buying some miniature flags for employees’ desks, mid-sized flags for Bay Constable vessels and full-sized flags for department functions, including walkout ceremonies for employee retirements. The flag will likely not be flown at town facilities, he said. "The problem is space," he said. "Most facilities only have one flagpole, if that," already occupied by the American or Smithtown flag based on the Smith family crest.

Jill Fleming, creative director of the Montauk advertising agency blumenfeld + fleming, said the "extremely traditional" design might bemuse some viewers from outside the department, because it conveys no information about Public Safety’s duties. For insiders though, "logos and flags and anything like that can really unify … Already, members of these groups have cohesion, collective psyche, a unification that can be strengthened with graphic design that everyone embraces."

Nuzzo, like Fleming, said he believed in the power of logos — practically every successful organization has one, even Coca-Cola, he said. He also took to heart the motto of the Smith family crest, adapted for Losee’s design: "Nec Timeo Nec Sperno" in the Latin, which translates to "I neither fear nor despise." The lesson Nuzzo took from the words was rooted in history but timeless: "Back in Colonial times when the bull rider was out here, these were uncharted lands. He kept an open mind about new people he was going to meet."

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