Commission sees dialogue on thin blue line patch as a positive step
The Calgary Police Commission is supportive of not 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.
While the Commission’s decision has not changed, it is understood that the road to compliance will take time. The Commission wants, as much as possible, to try get buy-in and voluntary compliance before looking at enforcement.
“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. “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.”
“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,” she adds. “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 hopes further dialogue will allow for solutions to be found that will be satisfactory to everyone involved. The talks will also provide an opportunity for discussions on other issues that have contributed to a breakdown in the relationship between the Commission and officers.
Additionally, allowing more time to work through the thin blue line issue together will ensure that the resources and attention of both the Service and Commission can remain focused on other ongoing important work – including planning for the next four-year budget cycle, addressing staffing shortages, responding to concerning crime trends and ongoing police reform efforts.
The Calgary Police Commission is a body of 10 community members and two city councillors appointed by City Council to provide independent citizen governance and oversight of the Calgary Police Service on behalf of all Calgarians.
To protect the political neutrality of the police, Alberta’s Police Act requires that the police chief report directly to the Commission and that the Commission give direction to the Service through the chief, police policies, monitoring of the police conduct complaints process, and approval of how the police budget is spent.