Calgary police can keep wearing thin blue line patch while discussions continue
CPS says officers wearing the insignia will not face penalties
The Calgary Police Service said Thursday that officers are allowed to continue wearing thin blue line patches without being reprimanded while discussions continue about a recent decision from the commission to have them removed.
The Calgary Police Commission (CPC) had previously directed officers to remove the patches starting March 31.
This decision was met with pushback from the Calgary Police Association, which represents more than 2,000 officers, and the Senior Officer Association, which encouraged its members to continue wearing the patch.
Following this, the police service delayed the requirement for officers to remove the patch by two weeks. However, this deadline has now been extended indefinitely.
"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 Chief Mark Neufeld in a statement.
"From individual meetings held throughout this week, it is clear that all parties are interested in finding a respectful path forward."
The Calgary Police Commission said in a statement they are also "supportive of not moving moving forward with enforcement of its direction that thin blue line patches be replaced or removed from on-duty officers, to allow further conversations with Calgary's two police associations."
However, the commission said its stance on having the patch removed has not changed and they hope to get voluntary compliance from officers before considering enforcement.
Neufeld said earlier this month that there has been a breakdown of trust between CPS and the commission.
Mixed reactions to patch
The patch has drawn mixed reactions from community members and officers.
For some members of the police service, the patch with the thin blue line represents a way to honour officers who have died in the line of duty.
In a statement, Calgary police said that many members have an "immense personal connection to the patch", especially after the death of Sgt. Andrew Harnett in 2020.
"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 commission 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."
The commission, found during its consultation process over the past year that the patch has a history of being associated with white supremacy.
The symbol has been featured in high-profile protests with links to white nationalist or racist views, and it's been seen at counter-protests against the Black Lives Matter movement.
"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," said Cornett.
"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 U.S. Capitol riots or at local divisive rallies and wonder why police officers in our city are wearing it too."
In a statement, CPS said, "until the conclusion of these meetings, the CPC has set aside their previously given timeline for the removal of the patches, as well as Chief Neufeld's extension of April 18. No disciplinary action will be taken against members wearing the patch until further notice."