Saint John police instructed not to wear 'thin blue line' patch after controversy online
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Saint John Police officers have been ordered to stop wearing 'thin blue line' patches while in uniform.
The directive was issued to members, and posted by the Saint John Police Force on its Twitter account Friday.
The force wasn't giving interviews on the topic Monday.
Photos have recently been posted to social media platforms showing city officers wearing the patch while in uniform.
The patch is controversial in many jurisdictions. Some believe it shows an 'us-versus-them' attitude amongst law enforcement while others believe it signifies solidarity between officers.
"There is pretty widespread consideration across the country and in the policing community that these were not appropriate symbols for conversations around repairing community relationships between the public and police," says David Hickey, a Saint John city councillor.
In October, the RCMP told its members they could no longer display the patch depicting a black and grey Canadian flag with blue stripe through it while on duty.
Some metropolitan police forces in Canada, including Ottawa and Victoria, have since banned the insignia, while others, including Montreal, are reviewing its use.
The Saint John chapter of Black Lives Matter is following the local discussion, and is disappointed the force didn't offer more in its directive.
"Are they going to seek an educational moment from this? Probably not," says Matthew Martin, president of Black Lives Matter Saint John.
"They took the easy way out of saying 'you're not allowed to wear it because its policy' rather than saying 'why do you want to wear these patches?"
The city's police union says it's also frustrated a longer explanation wasn't offered.
"It would've been nice if the force had provided some history or some reasoning of what the patch was," says Duane Squires, president of the Saint John Police Association. "The force's direction to our members was it's not an issued piece of equipment, you're not supposed to be wearing that and we understand that."