By Dylan Random
About 45 officers with the Calgary Police olfactory crimes division were on patrol along strategic points in the city this weekend, conducting a deodorant bylaw enforcement operation after receiving numerous complaints about “foul-smelling barbarians” in the city.
“Warmer weather has created a surge in stink-related complaints,” says Cst. David Shelly of the olfactory crimes division.
“You’d think it’s common sense to put on deodorant in the morning, but you wouldn’t believe the number of offences we’ve come across.”
The latest numbers from police show officers handed out nearly 8,000 fines since the beginning of the year when the new bylaw came into effect. The department hopes operations like this will help educate people to the effects of smelling like a dead and decaying rat as the warmer weather rolls in.
“It’s uncomfortable for everyone when overpowering body odor finds its way onto the scene,” says Shelly. “The smell can linger for moments after the offending person leaves the area, and can even make law-abiding deodorant wearers question their own hygiene.”
Mark Sanders, 27, was issued a warning from police in the Kensington area on Sunday, and says he doesn’t understand why he was even stopped.
“I don’t have body odor,” says Sanders, who probably actually believes that. “I can go days without showering and, in fact, haven’t washed my hair in about a week.”
Sanders says he hasn’t used deodorant since he was in high school.
“It’s just not an issue for me.”
Susan E. Foster, a psychologist specializing in self-awareness, and author of the book, Sniff, Sniff: Honey, Do I Smell Funny? says most people who have foul body odor don’t even realize they have a problem.
“We live with ourselves, and our nose is very quickly accustomed to our own odor,” says Foster from her office in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where deodorant bylaws have been in effect for over two decades. “We’re simply not good judges of our own odor.”
Ward 15 Councillor, Charlie Bain, introduced the bylaw, and says he was prompted to do something about “stinkers” after being trapped in a crowded Costco one Saturday afternoon.
“My God did it smell bad,” recalls Bain. “The children were crying, we were trapped in line . . . you couldn’t escape the sour-vinegar smell.”
Police will be continuing awareness campaigns throughout the summer, but warns Calgarians that fines will be issued on a case-by-case basis, ranging from $180 to $2000 and possible jail time.