Milwaukee Police Taking "Corrective Action" After Officers are Photographed with Tape Over Names at UWM Protest
Concerns over officer safety and that of their families has reached the point that some Milwaukee Police Officers have resorted to covering over their names with tape on their uniforms.
A photograph was taken over the weekend at a protest at UW Milwaukee that MPD says shows a violation of department policy.
Sgt. Timothy Gauerke issued the following statement to CBS 58's April Dvornay:
"The photos indicate a violation of MPD policy and we have initiated an investigation. Chief Flynn has also directed that immediate corrective action be taken to ensure that future violations do not occur. Our policy allows officers to replace their name tag with a unique identifying number when they are involved in a protest/demonstration/rally type of deployment. This policy was developed several years ago in response to the occurrence of identity theft and personal threats to officers and their families subsequent to major events, rallies and demonstrations across the country over the past few years."
Mike Crivello, President of the Milwaukee Police Association, said he had not been aware of the situation until it was brought to his attention by CBS 58 News. After looking at the photo and reviewing the MPD statement, Crivello offered this response:
"The deployment of Police Officers is the responsibility of Chief Flynn, as is proper equipment outfitting, to include inspection prior to
implementation of service. Numeric identifiers covering traditional name tags are utilized for the protection of the officer and his/her family members in specific situations. The MPA supports and mandates proper safety enhancements for the professionals we represent."
But that is not the end of it.
Chris Ahmuty, ACLU of Wisconsin Executive Director, also issued a statement regarding the incident:
"Today, the ACLU of Wisconsin expressed concern that once again the Milwaukee Police are covering up their name tags for no good reason, contrary to department policy, and hindering any efforts at increased transparency in the process. This kind of behavior will do nothing but draw even clearer lines of division between the MPD and the community it purports to serve. As evidenced by Sunday’s police show of force at UW-Milwaukee, individual police officers and the major incident response team (MIRT) too often cover up their name tags while deployed in public. This is a flagrant violation of an MPD policy that is already weak and rarely enforced. When Milwaukeeans are peacefully exercising their rights to free speech and assembly, the MPD should do everything in its power to refrain from intimidating members of the public from expressing themselves. By covering up their name tags, the officers communicated an implicit threat that they may engage in practices for which they do not want to be held accountable. The ACLU of Wisconsin urges the MPD to better train and supervise its officers, including those assigned to demonstrations protected by the First Amendment, to maintain transparency and avoid sending harmful messages to the public."