A rule for thee, not for me

Ah, the ol’ fear tactics are at it again I see. Vladvictoria via Pixabay

Law enforcement officers should be more mindful of the image they project

by katlyn richardson, contributor

The ‘thin blue line’ began as a means to stand in solidarity with police officers who often die on the job or get seriously injured due to the dangers of the job. The original symbol meant standing for police safety when they are working. This drastically changed in the public eye in the wake of the George Floyd protests where, once again, extreme force against a person of colour was used.

While the situation with Floyd was not the first time the type and amount of force the police used was called into question, this was where I started to see the thin blue line become mainstream and seem to be everywhere. The incident with Floyd really called into question the type and duration of training required to become a police officer when compared to other fields (especially in the criminal justice system), along with how much money is provided to police services if they are going to use excessive force that risk a person’s life. Floyd was definitely not the first BIPOC to be killed by a cop, and unfortunately will not be the last.

Following the protest against the police in the murder of George Floyd, more police officers were demanding support and trying to gain sympathy for a job that was already stressful enough. The thin blue line came to represent this support which was quickly co-opted by white supremacists to promote harm toward BIPOC individuals, which did a lot of damage to the support of police officers. The RCMP banned this symbol in 2020 from being displayed on officer uniforms as it suggested who the RCMP support. Now that an RCMP officer has been seen wearing the thin blue line symbol, many questions are being raised about what should be done to this individual.

Personally, I believe he should receive disciplinary action for several reasons. Firstly, he completely disregarded the importance of the uniform, which is to make them identifiable in public. Further, wearing a symbol that is identifiable with white supremacy causes significant problems with public opinion. When you are a police officer, public opinion is highly impactful in how well you can show the community that you can be trusted and respected. When used by other groups, these symbols impact the idea of how police are often the epitome of “do as I say, not as I do.” This divide between police and citizens is constantly growing. It seems with each passing day more and more cops are ignoring the law they are supposed to uphold. The ironic part of this officer wearing the thin blue line is the fact he was escorting someone who has been convicted of hate speech.

The officer failing to follow attire guidelines also posed a threat to himself and his fellow officers. His task was escorting an inmate. Had a citizen stopped this man to question the pin, the inmate could have the potential to cause harm to residents who live near the prison and to anyone else nearby. This complete disregard for the rules is just one of the many scenarios where there is a need to analyze and scrutinize even the smallest actions when you are supposed to be in charge of security for people in your community.

Personally, I’d feel less safe around a cop who clearly supports white supremacy. We as a society have decided symbols that are commonly tied to Nazism are bad and should be avoided. Any symbols white supremacists get their grubby little paws on should be treated the same. The more support these groups gain, the more we all pay for it.

If I were handed the case of this officer, I would immediately go down the path of disciplinary action and would handle this with extreme caution. To do this, I would first put the officer on unpaid leave while I conduct my investigation. Then, I would put this officer in a communications class that is targeted to demonstrate how the appearance of certain symbols affect how you are seen by others. This officer would also be forced to redo their training to force them to show they have learned from their actions, and so they are made brutally aware of how important their actions are in uniform. If this happens a second time, they would be immediately removed from the force.

Police have the difficult job of upholding public safety in unsafe circumstances. Using symbolism that further inspires fear of them instead of trust in them will only create dire circumstances where people hesitate calling the police for help. Police already take up large amounts of tax dollars that could be better spent to help the homeless or those with addictions. If police are going to support extremists and use symbols tied to extremist viewpoints, they should be punished as part of the group.


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