Buffalo, NY – Buffalo police officers are no longer required to display their names on their uniforms after more than a dozen officers received threats against themselves and their families.
Buffalo Police Department officials made the change to the handbook policy that required officers to display both their name and badge number last week but didn’t make a public announcement about it, KTVP reported.
The change came in response to officers being doxed, and their spouses and children being threatened on social media.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown told KTVP the policy change was made due to ongoing concerns for officer safety after months of violent protests.
.@MayorByronBrown says it is now policy for Buffalo police officers to wear a badge number instead of a name. Mayor Brown says that change was made last week and should cutdown on attempts by members of the public to inappropriately contact officers. @WGRZ
— Jeff Preval (@PrevalWGRZ) September 24, 2020
Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo said that officers would still be required to display their badge numbers on their uniforms and are required by policy to divulge their badge number when asked by a citizen.
But the police department and the city are not going to take any unnecessary risks given the current anti-police environment.
“It is extremely serious, there has been some absolutely disgusting things said about officers and their small children, and threats to their well-being on websites,” Captain Rinaldo told KTVP.
The issue first came up back in August when protesters complained that officers had been covering the names on their uniforms during violent protests on Hertel Avenue.
At the time, the Buffalo police policy manual called for name tags to “always be displayed on the outer most garment,” KTVP reported.
But after protesters began issuing threats to police and doxing individual officers by releasing their home addresses, children’s pictures, and even financial information on social media, department officials began considering alternatives.
That was also when the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association (PBA) began pushing the police department to change the policy, KTVP reported.
Many other police departments across the nation only require officers to display badge numbers.
The police department made the important policy change without any fanfare and protesters complained it was just another example of law enforcement being sneaky.
Protesters complained the move reduces transparency and were upset when officers used tape to cover their nametags during recent protests, WGRZ reported.
Police reform advocate India Walton called the move “disturbing,” KTVP reported.
Walton said they were calling for the resignation of the mayor, the police commissioner, and the district attorney “because we don’t feel adequately represented, and we don’t feel safe in our own communities.”
“And allowing officers to not display their names, is another way of hiding the injustices that the people in our community face every single day, and we’re so tired of it,” she added.