Calgary police officers won’t face discipline for wearing ‘thin blue line’ patch – for now

Calgary Police Service members who continue to wear a ‘thin blue line’ patch while on duty won’t be punished while the Police Commission and police associations discuss whether it should be allowed.

The Calgary Police Commission — made up of 10 civilian members and two city councillors — which provides oversight for CPS, ordered officers to remove the patches by the end of March, however Chief Mark Neufeld said he wanted two weeks to address the issue.

A release said that decision “has been met with varying reactions across the service,” and that members have “an immense personal connection” to it, especially after the death of Sgt. Andrew Harnett.

“While it is acknowledged that CPC has provided lawful direction to the service, further discussion by all stakeholders must take place to address the immediacy of the direction, as well as additional issues raised by the Calgary Police Association (CPA) and Senior Officer Association (SOA),” said Neufeld in a release.

“From individual meetings held throughout this week, it is clear that all parties are interested in finding a respectful path forward.”

The commission has now set aside that direction and officers will be allowed to continue wearing the patches “until further notice.”

The commission has earlier said the decision to prohibit the symbol was made for several reasons, including its contentious history in “division, colonialism and racism.”

In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, the commission said it supports not moving forward with enforcement of its order.

“As a group, our commission has recognized from the outset that officers wear the thin blue line patch to honour the fallen, support each other and recognize the special role police have in society,” said chair Shawn Cornett in a statement.

“While a personal view previously expressed by one commissioner unfortunately sent a different message, the commission as a whole has never doubted that officers wear the symbol to express positive things.

“Our intent has always only been to make sure that no Calgarian is faced with approaching a police officer that is wearing a symbol that is also connected with other very divisive and racially charged movements both today and in the past.

“Even if a majority of people are fine with the symbol, we need to work together to address the concerns of those who have seen the symbol at anti-Black Lives Matter protests, at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, during the US Capitol riots or at local divisive rallies and wonder why police officers in our city are wearing it too.”

No commission members were made available for interview.

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