Cop uni­form not wel­come

The Press - - National News - Sinead Cor­co­ran

Po­lice will not be tak­ing part in Auck­land’s Pride Pa­rade in Feb­ru­ary – be­cause they say they have been banned from wear­ing their uni­forms.

In­stead, the Pride Fes­ti­val board told of­fi­cers they must wear T-shirts, says In­spec­tor Tracy Phillips. ‘‘It’s re­ally, re­ally sad,’’ says Phillips, co-or­di­na­tor of the New Zealand Po­lice’s di­ver­sity li­ai­son of­fi­cer ser­vice. ‘‘We’re re­ally proud of what we do for a job, who we are and the work that we’ve done – so if we’re not wel­come, we’re cer­tainly not go­ing to force our way in, and we’ve taken that mes­sage as we are not wel­come.’’

Phillips says that af­ter re­ceiv­ing the news, she made the call that the NZ Po­lice would no longer at­tend the pa­rade, if they weren’t al­lowed to wear their uni­forms.

‘‘Po­lice fought re­ally hard to be in­cluded in Pride, and to march in uni­form. We’re not pre­pared to go back­wards and march in T-shirts, like we had to pre­vi­ously.’’

When asked what rea­son­ing the Pride board gave, Phillips said that it was be­cause some peo­ple had ex­pressed con­cern that the po­lice are an in­sti­tu­tion.

‘‘The in­sti­tu­tion doesn’t deal with peo­ple, the in­sti­tu­tion doesn’t ar­rest peo­ple, the in­sti­tu­tion is our peo­ple – and if our peo­ple are not al­lowed to proudly march as po­lice of­fi­cers, we won’t come. We don’t want peo­ple feel­ing of­fended by the fact that we’re in uni­form.’’

A spokesper­son for the Auck­land Pride Board said there was ‘‘good­will to­wards the NZ Po­lice’’ but that they did not ‘‘cur­rently meet the de­gree of safety and aware­ness of in­ter­sec­tion­al­ity re­quired by our rain­bow com­mu­ni­ties’’.

‘‘The Auck­land Pride Board is com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing that the Auck­land Pride Pa­rade is a cel­e­bra­tion of rain­bow com­mu­nity vis­i­bil­ity. We wel­come any and all rain­bow peo­ple to be a part of the Auck­land Pride Pa­rade, in­clud­ing mem­bers of the NZ Po­lice, who are in­vited to march in plain or fancy clothes.’’

Ac­cord­ing to Phillips, the NZ Po­lice had reached out to the board to find out what the force could im­prove on. ‘‘We had said to the or­gan­is­ers, come to us and tell us what we can do bet­ter – but no-one’s come back to us.’’

She says the news is a huge blow but that they’re stay­ing pos­i­tive.

‘‘Our en­tire po­lice band was go­ing to come this year, our po­lice horses, or po­lice dogs, our rain­bow scarf and rain­bow car – so I’m re­ally dis­ap­pointed. But we’ll just keep do­ing the mahi in the back­ground, and do­ing things be­cause it’s the right thing to do.’’

CHRIS SKELTON/STUFF

Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern at Auck­land’s Pride Pa­rade in Feb­ru­ary this year.

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