Back in August, protesters in Buffalo, NY, started noticing that police officers were covering their names on their badges, despite official police department policy noting that "name tags must always be displayed on the outer most garment." That policy has just been modified, and local activists aren't happy about it. WKBW reports that while cops' badges still must be clearly visible, their names have been swapped out for badge numbers, per a departmental rule change quietly made about a week ago. Mayor Byron Brown says the change came after threats were made online toward police officers and their families. Buffalo Police Department Capt. Jeff Rinaldo says more than a dozen cops have been the target of these threats, and that the mandate for the change came directly from the police commissioner.
"There [have] been some absolutely disgusting things said about officers and their small children, and threats to their well-being on websites," Rinaldo says. Brown notes some of the "doxxing," where cops' personal info is posted online, and subsequent threats are coming from outside Buffalo, WKBW reports, via CNN. "People in different parts of the country, maybe internationally ... see a name on a uniform and then go to work on the computer," he says. Local activists decried the change, which wasn't publicly announced when it was made, saying it prevents transparency and accountability and erodes community trust. It's "another way of hiding the injustices that the people in our community face every single day, and we're so tired of it," Buffalo's India Walton, who advocates for police reform, tells WKBW. (Read more Buffalo stories.)