A B.C. police force has pulled all online promotions of a wristband supporting one of its officers who has been charged with second-degree murder.
The Delta Police Department, south of Vancouver, had posted sales information about a wristband supporting Constable Jordan MacWilliams on its website and social media channels. As of Monday, all mentions were removed.
"In order to avoid any confusion or implied questions about the impartiality of the Delta Police Department, we removed mention of [the wristbands] from those forums as soon as we were able to," said acting sergeant Sarah Swallow in an e-mail.
Constable MacWilliams is accused in the shooting death of 48-year-old Mehrdad Bayrami after a five-hour standoff at Starlight Casino in November, 2012.
Crown counsel laid charges after a review of the incident by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C.
Individual police officers have not been asked to remove mentions of the rubber wristband from their personal social-media profiles, but it is something the department "will be looking at moving forward." They will also be allowed to continue wearing the wristbands while on the job.
More than 2,500 blue wristbands stamped with the words "honour," "integrity," "courage" and "trust" as well as "2573" – the badge number of Constable MacWilliams – have been sold so far.
Critics said the use of police resources to help sell the wristbands was a clear conflict of interest.
"Police resources and by extension public resources, shouldn't be used to publicly challenge Crown decisions," said Douglas King, a lawyer with the Pivot Legal Society. "It confuses the role that the police have within the criminal justice system – they are a part of it, not above it."
The wristbands are an initiative of the Delta Police Association, the union representing officers. The police department put up the information as a "stop-gap" measure after receiving a high volume of inquiries to purchase the wristbands because the association does not have an online presence.
"The information on our website regarding the bands was not for promotion, but to clarify to the public that they could e-mail the association for inquiries rather than the department," said Acting Sgt. Swallow.
In one Facebook post, Delta police advertised that bracelets could be picked up in person at the department headquarters. It also listed a private e-mail address on its website through which the public can place orders.
According to Tom Stamatakis, who serves as the president of the B.C. Police Association, the overarching body that represents all police associations in the province, the wristbands were not part of a fundraising campaign for Constable MacWilliams. Each wristband was sold at the cost of production for $2.
"It's just something that the Delta Police Association wanted to do to show their support for their member in a tangible way."
The wristbands will now be made available through the B.C. Police Association.