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Calgary police explain why officer was recorded shaking hands with anti-mask protestor

Click to play video: 'Video shows Calgary officer shaking hands with anti-mask protestor' Video shows Calgary officer shaking hands with anti-mask protestor
Calgary police are explaining the circumstances that led to an officer shaking hands with an unmasked anti-mask protestor at Chinook Centre on Feb. 13, 2021 – Feb 16, 2021

Calgary police are responding to a viral video showing an officer interacting with an anti-mask protestor on Saturday.

The video was recorded at Chinook Centre and posted to social media where it was reshared and commented on.

In the video, a masked Calgary Police Service officer can be seen extending his hand to an unmasked man. The pair shake hands and the officer leans in to speak with him.

In a statement posted to Facebook on Monday evening, the CPS said members of its public safety unit and diversity resources team were monitoring Saturday’s anti-mask rally at Chinook Centre.

Read more: ‘He kicked the dog, which is unacceptable’: Calgary police address video showing officer strike K9

“The diversity resources team were on scene to try and negotiate the protestors leaving the mall peacefully,” police said. “In doing so, the officer in the video was successful in this peaceful negotiation.

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“Another protester was nearby speaking into a bullhorn so the officer leaned in closer to hear what is being said.”

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Calgary police officer criticized after video shows him shaking hands with anti-mask protester at mall' Coronavirus: Calgary police officer criticized after video shows him shaking hands with anti-mask protester at mall
Coronavirus: Calgary police officer criticized after video shows him shaking hands with anti-mask protester at mall – Feb 16, 2021

Police said shortly after this interaction, the protestors left the mall peacefully.

The CPS went on to say its role at these types of rallies or protests is to “ensure public and officer safety.”

“For this reason, it is sometimes better to follow through with enforcement action post-event.

“We commit to investigating the full scope of events in the coming days to determine what enforcement action may be taken.”

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“Our officers know that there’s a good chance that they’re going to be on video with virtually every interaction they have, whether it’s video surveillance on a building, or whether it’s somebody with a cellphone,” Calgary police chief Mark Neufeld said while speaking on Global News Morning Calgary on Wednesday.

“The other thing is our officers are carrying body-worn video, so they’re recording as well.”

Neufeld said there seems to be a trend that has been “intensifying for a number of years” in which videos of police interactions are posted online.

“I think that we’ve seen a lot of online reaction without any opportunity for due process or context. The court of public opinion has been very harsh recently, so it is very much a challenge. Our officers are certainly up for it, but I think it’s one that’s intensified recently for sure.”

Click to play video: 'Calgary police chief Mark Neufeld discusses the new anti-racism committee' Calgary police chief Mark Neufeld discusses the new anti-racism committee
Calgary police chief Mark Neufeld discusses the new anti-racism committee – Feb 17, 2021

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