The issue of thin blue line patches on Calgary police uniforms, as well as fundamental issues of mistrust between police and their civilian oversight, saw some progress following meetings in the past week.
The Calgary Police Service (CPS) and Calgary Police Commission (CPC) issued complimentary news releases Thursday afternoon, saying officers currently wearing thin blue line insignia would not face reprimand while conversations between those two bodies and the two police associations continued over the matter.
Those in-person meetings are expected to take place next week.
In a statement, CPS Chief Mark Neufeld said individual meetings this week showed “all parties are interested in finding a respectful path forward.”
“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),” he said.
A statement from commission chair Shawn Cornett repeated the recognition that officers wear the insignia as a way to honour fallen officers, support their fellow police and “recognize the special role police have in society.”
“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,” Cornett said.
Last week, Neufeld revealed there were deeper schisms between the police and commission.
The commission said it hopes the talks around the thin blue line open up conversations around those deeper issues.
The civilian oversight body also repeated its goal to make sure no Calgarian has to meet a police officer wearing a symbol that has connections to racist and white supremacist movements.
“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,” the commission chair said.
The removal date of the thin blue line patches is now to be determined.
On March 5, CPS Chief Mark Neufeld said he would hold back enforcement of the commission’s directive to remove the insignia issued the week before for a period of two weeks.
The next day, commission chair Shawn Cornett supported the delay, saying the civilian oversight body realized it would take time to get voluntary compliance — the desired outcome.
Thin blue line insignia has been removed from police services in Edmonton, Victoria, Ottawa, Toronto, St. John and the RCMP, and Saskatoon is considering what to do with the symbol.
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