Vermont prank: Don’t have a cow, man

Associated press/globe staff illustration

The most astonishing thing about the prank pulled off by an unknown Vermont prisoner who inserted a pig into the crest displayed on the side of state police cruisers is that nobody noticed it until now.

Vermont officials believe that, in 2008, a mischievous inmate at a prison print shop changed the computer program that produces decals. A shipment of decals was ordered in 2009, and emblazoned on about 30 police cars. The official state police seal shows a spotted cow against a bucolic background of meadows and snowy mountains. In the hacked version, though, one of the spots took the outline of a pig, an allusion to a pejorative term for officers.

Fortunately, officials in Vermont have responded with good humor, while noting that the decals will cost taxpayers $780 to replace. But they are planning to destroy the remaining decals, which would be a lost opportunity. If nothing else, keeping one around would be a useful warning to be more careful in the future. And as a graphic design accomplishment and now a part of Vermont lore, an image that fooled a whole state deserves to be preserved.