Cop uniform not welcome
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.’’
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Auckland’s Pride Parade in February this year.