One member of the Toronto Police Service has found themselves in a world of trouble today after being caught on camera wearing a controversial patch on his uniform.
The patch includes a skull resembling the vigilante Marvel Comics character the Punisher, surrounded by a motto aligned with the Blue Lives Matter ethos: "Make no mistake, I am the sheepdog."
It also has a black-and-white Canadian flag with a blue line through it, similar to the oft-criticized Thin Blue Line flag south of the border, which many feel blatantly counters the Black Lives Matter movement.
Spotted this patch on one of the officers at this morning’s presser. Google tells me this is a motto popular among police, a fuller version of which is “I may walk among the sheep, but make no mistake, I am the sheepdog.” The sheep being civilians, presumably. pic.twitter.com/vjWJzQlzb6— Ben Spurr (@BenSpurr) September 8, 2020
The unnamed officer was seen wearing the problematic emblem on his uniform during a press conference in Tuesday, and an image of it soon made its rounds on social media, with some residents expressing their shock and concern.
Some even called for the culprit to be fired given the fears and heightened tensions between police and civilians lately as instances of law enforcement's excessive use of force and protests against them persist worldwide.
"He needs to be fired. Yup, drastic but making him remove the patch is just a band-aid...what we really need to worry about is what goes on in his mind. Remember he had the gall to deface his uniform for that badge," one user said on Twitter.
"If I heard the saying about sheepdogs I might let it fly even if it isn't accurate about police should be about. It's the skull symbol just makes it mean-spirited and juvenile. This officer should disciplined and made an example of," another added.
And still another: "It's not the removal of the patch but the removal of the motivation and ideology behind the patch. That’s not as simple. I worry that this police officer is on duty, and carrying a gun."
The public needs to know how many officers wear this terror patch. Who makes it. Who distributed it. How many cops are sympathetic to this far right mindset? pic.twitter.com/2wZJz8gVO2— QuaranJean 🥃 (@Whisky_Jean) September 8, 2020
Some have pointed out, though, that sheep/sheepdog terminology has long been employed by police and armed forces in North America, and is apparently not necessarily meant to be offensive to civilians.
"That saying is part of their training. It's how the job is framed to new recruits and the concept permeates everything they are taught," one citizen chimed. "It's the main guiding principle. In the US, cops are taught to be wolves. Here they're sheepdogs. In both places, the public are sheep.
The sheepdog doesn't work for the sheep, he works for the shepherd. The shepherd will fleece us while we're productive, then slaughter us when we no longer serve our purpose. We are not sheep.— Colin Principe (@cprincipe) September 8, 2020
Regardless of the patch's true meaning, the officer's intention in wearing it and the public's response to it, law enforcement must get permission from the Council Police Board before decorating their workwear with any type of symbols — something that Ward 17 City Councillor Shelley Carroll clarified online this afternoon, tagging Mayor John Tory and other council members.
According to TPS representative Meaghan Gray, the cop has has since been called out by his superiors and made to remove the patch. "It is not approved, nor appropriate. This is now a matter of internal discipline," they tweeted.
Whether and what type of internal discpline will be enacted remains unclear.
by Becky Robertson via blogTO