Many of the police officers present during protests that followed the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, did not wear nametags and refused to identify themselves to members of the public when asked, a practice that is prohbited by law in some places and by department policy in many others. Per a Department of Justice letter sent to Ferguson police on Tuesday, Ferguson officers are in fact required to wear identification by the department’s own regulations. The DOJ instructed officers to begin following this requirement immediately. From Reuters:
… the Justice Department said its investigators had observed Ferguson police officers not wearing, or obscuring, their name tags on their uniforms, a violation of the police department’s rules.
“The failure to wear name plates conveys a message to community members that, through anonymity, officers may seek to act with impunity,” the letter said.
The Justice Department then reiterated the identification requirement in a second letter to Ferguson police (whose main purpose was demanding that officers stop wearing “I Am Darren Wilson” solidarity bracelets):
It further was reported to us that some officers affirmatively displaying these bracelets had black tape over their name plates. The practice of not wearing, or obscuring, name plates violates your own department’s policies, which we advised you earlier this week when we requested that you end the practice imrnediately.
The second letter is dated Friday. Here’s an excerpt from a New York Times account of events in Ferguson on Sunday:
A gaggle of journalists standing near the protest spotted a police officer who was not wearing a name tag. When a cameraman asked his name, the officer refused to give it and left the area.
Maybe the third time will be the charm when it comes to the Justice Department reminding Ferguson to follow their own rules.