Vancouver police say they’re disappointed by a decision by the Vancouver Pride Society to ask officers not to wear their uniforms while marching in the Pride parade—a decision the department said it found out about through the media.

Police officers are being asked to attend the celebration in plainclothes and not to wear their uniform, not to carry any weapons and not to show up in marked police vehicles. Vancouver Pride made the decision at a board meeting in September, but The Vancouver Police Department’s media relations officer said the force only found out in a news article this week.

“We are very disappointed by the decision… Our members have proudly walked in the parade alongside the community for 21 consecutive years,” said Cst. Jason Doucette.

He said the VPD had no input in the final decision.

Vancouver Pride says their decision for the 2018 parade is not that different from the 2017 parade—when only 20 per cent of officers marching were allowed to wear their uniform.

Andrea Arnot, executive director of the Vancouver Pride said there have been ongoing discussions since 2016 after Black Lives Matter started a national discussion about uniformed police at Pride.

“There are these marginalized groups who feel they don’t have a relationship or trust with police,” Arnot said. “We heard that the police uniform is a trigger for people based on past experiences or trauma.”

Doucette acknowledged there are some people in the LGBTQ2S+ community who do not want to see officers in uniform, but said the VPD is engaged in reconciliation efforts and has even hired a LGBTQ2S+ liaison officer.

“We recognize that our work is not done and we will continue with our listening and outreach efforts,” Doucette said.

Arnot said Pride made their decision after listening to Indigenous two-spirit people, people from the trans community and people of colour.

“I feel like if VPD can do this it’s a gesture and it’s a symbol to these communities—like hey, we’re listening to you,” she said.

She also said the decision to ban police uniforms is one that will be revisited every year.

“We’re inviting [officers] to participate,” she said. “Just in a different way.”

With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Breanna Karstens-Smith