Department Reverses Policy, Will Now Require Officers To Display Names On Uniforms…Most Of The Time…
On Monday (Jan. 25) Buffalo police Commissioner Byron Lockwood announced that the Buffalo Police Department is reversing its policy and will now require officers to display their names on their uniforms.
It’s close to being an “about face” since September when Lockwood and the mayor announced that that officers were only required to show an ID number and not a name badge.
Under the reversed policy, police officers names will be on Velcro patches that can be removed but ID numbers have to be displayed at all times. Officers who do not display their names on uniforms, Lockwood said, will face “progressive discipline.”
The only time names will not be required to be displayed is during “civil unrest.” ID numbers must still be displayed.
However this summer all too many peaceful protests apparently fell into that category. And it is during such demonstrations when authorities tend to unleash their abusive authority on unarmed demonstrators.
Advocates who were opposed to the decision to remove officers names from their uniforms in the first place still see a problem with transparency in this “reversed policy.”
“I think it’s unfortunate it (the reversal) didn’t go further,” said Attorney John V. Elmore, co-chairperson of the Minority Bar Association of Western New York’s Criminal Justice Task Force.
Others agree, suggesting that a name tag should be a permanent fixture on an officer’s uniform at all times.
“I strongly believe that Buffalo – the second largest city in the state – and its Police Department, should use best practices,” Elmore added.
Last September the Minority Bar’s Criminal Justice Task Force issued seven recommendations for reform including strengthening civilian oversight of the Police Department, opening police disciplinary hearings to the public and making sure officers turn on body-worn cameras.
Attorney Elmore noted that theTask Force has also advocated for legislation modeled on the Syracuse Right to Know law and that he testified on this issue in front of the Common Council twice.
We actually presented a law in written form – applicable to Buffalo and it was tabled both times – we were very disappointed.”
Elmore acknowledged those community groups who supported and stood with the Minority Bar in their efforts, including The Urban Think Tank, the WNY Concerned Clergy, the Stop The Violence Coordinating Committee and others.“There shouldn’t be a need for community pressure when it comes to the Police Department utilizing the best practices,” said Elmore.