Calgary mayor Jyoti Gondek’s city council has succeeded in making Calgary police stop wearing the thin blue line patch, becoming the first police service in Canada to do so.
As per internal emails sent to officers, Calgary Police Association president Johnny Orr wrote, “We reluctantly recommend you remove the [thin blue line] patches and comply with [the Calgary Police Commission’s] order.”
“While we know that removing the patch is a tough pill to swallow, we believe that [we] have achieved several ‘wins,'” he continued.
As for the wins, Orr says that officers will still be allowed to wear the patch on dress uniforms “to show remembrance for the fallen on those occasions, which Orr argues is a tacit admission that the patch is not a “hate symbol.”
“We would be the first major police service in the country to do so and, in turn, would lead the way for all police services across the country to follow suit,” Orr continues.
He further states that he believes defying the order to remove the thin blue line patch would lead to suspensions and other disciplinary actions.
As previously reported by The Counter Signal in March, Calgary Police Commission Chair Shawn Cornett said that the thin blue line is viewed as connected to racism and has to go.
“People in our community have clearly expressed that the thin blue line patch on police officers makes them uncomfortable due to its history and current use by groups opposing racial equity,” commission chair Shawn Cornett said in a statement in March.
“… Even when police officers wearing the patch are not meaning to support racist views, the connection to recent events and the visually divisive image of the symbol has an impact on people of colour and others who are not sure which of the many different meanings an officer is trying to express.”
Mayor Gondek had previously stated that she wanted the patch replaced with a new symbol, arguing the thin blue line, which left-wing protesters conflated with white nationalism, had been co-opted.
“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 said while speaking to Global News.
Calgary councillor Gian-Carlo Carra further warned that “citizens oversee the Calgary Police Service” and that City Council “will get to compliance one way or another.”