The Calgary Police Commission is frustrated after the Calgary Police Association distributed “countless” thin blue line patches and pins to police officers and civilian service members in response to a recent directive.
A commission directive on Wednesday ordered on-duty police officers to remove the thin blue line patch by Friday. The commission offered to work with police and associations to replace it with a symbol that better reflects the values of Calgarians.
The thin blue line, a symbol originally created to commemorate fallen officers, has a history rooted in anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism.
Previously, the Calgary Police Association said it would defy the order. Association president John Orr accused some commission members of being anti-police.
“We don’t see this symbol as divisive… According to the consultations, that is not the case.”
“It’s very clear on social media that they have an anti-police stance, and when they ignore the thousands of people that were consulted from diverse communities… I don’t think that’s appropriate,” Orr said on Afternoons with Rob Breakenridge on Friday.
In a Friday afternoon press release, the commission said it remains committed to working with the Calgary Police Association and the Calgary Police Senior Officers Association to find or create a replacement for the thin blue line patch.
Although the commission will hire a graphic design firm to help design the replacement symbol, the final decision will be left entirely to officers and their families.
“The entire commission completely supports there being a patch to express these ideas and does not think officers are wearing the thin blue line to express the same things as those who use the symbol negatively,” commission chair Shawn Cornett said.
“We also all agree that the thin blue line patch now has too many other messages mixed in with it to be the symbol used for this purpose.”
Cornett is hoping for voluntary compliance with the order.
“It is deeply concerning that the police associations and senior officers are encouraging police officers to disregard a lawful direction given by the body Calgary’s elected government has appointed to provide police oversight.”
Mayor Jyoti Gondek said she hopes a new symbol can be created for police officers.
“I don’t think Calgarians disrespect the police service for the work that they do… However, when a symbol has been co-opted and gives a great deal of discomfort to certain stakeholder groups, we need to take it seriously,” Gondek told Global News on Friday.
“I hope they can come up with something that is customized and really special for (police officers).”
Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said on Wednesday that the police association’s decision to defy the order will not be taken lightly.
“Make no mistake… Citizens oversee the Calgary Police Service, and that citizen oversight has made that determination,” he said.
“We will get to compliance one way or another.”