OPP officers are being told to wear their regular uniforms rather than dress uniforms at Remembrance Day ceremonies for safety reasons.
This follows the deaths last month of two Canadian soldiers — one in Ottawa and one in Quebec — at the hands of terrorists.
“The change of dress is basically an internal directive given the event that transpired in the last couple of weeks. It is for the safety of our officers,” OPP Sgt. Peter Leon said Wednesday.
Remembrance Day is a statutory holiday for the OPP and officers are to wear plainclothes or full uniform — which includes body armour and carrying their weapon — if they attend any Remembrance Day function.
Leon says there are no specific threats.
“There is nothing I can speak to, but there have been threats made on our soil in the past. It’s regrettable we can’t wear our dress uniforms to show our respect for the sacrifices of our veterans,” Leon said.
“Our focus is on officer safety. If there was a situation that transpired, officers could react and respond and protect citizens.”
Mike O’Hara, an executive with the Ajax Royal Canadian Legion, says the uniform decision is “horrendous.”
“I’m having a hard time with that. I understand the need for safety because we don’t need anyone else being hurt,” O’Hara said.
The Toronto Police Association wants all off-duty officers to be able to carry their sidearm.
Toronto officers not on duty can carry their weapon with permission.
There needs to be a broader policy, says Mike McCormack, president of the association.
“There is a changing landscape around terrorism and we have to ensure officer safety isn’t compromised,” McCormack said, adding police are cops 24/7.
“Officers aren’t just going to be targeted at work. We are assessing things on a day-to-day basis.”