Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has authorized his deputies to conceal their names while policing protests and other civil disturbances.
Villanueva said Wednesday that the change to the department’s longstanding practice of requiring deputies to wear tags engraved with their last names on their uniform shirts was in response to recent incidents in which deputies were harassed and had personal information revealed by protesters.
The details of the new rule are still being worked out, but will leave it to deputies to choose whether to cover their name tag, a department spokesman said. Those who choose to do so will be identifiable through their badge numbers, the spokesman said.
The change came after a protest last week outside Men’s Central Jail at which several deputies were filmed with duct tape covering their name tags. The move troubled activists and department watchdogs, who said such obfuscation made it much harder to hold deputies accountable and fueled distrust among communities demanding greater transparency and reforms by police agencies. Some said replacing deputies names with a number will make it harder to identify deputies who they accuse of abusive conduct during chaotic situations at protests.
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