By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.
April 4, 2016
Milwaukee, WI - On Monday, Milwaukee residents and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) criticized the Milwaukee Police Department including Police Chief Edward A. Flynn for allowing a practice by police officer units to cover their name tags and badges with numbers so, they can't be easily be identified, if they engage in unlawful use of force and unsupervised illegal activities at peaceful rallies. Multiple photos showing Milwaukee police officers assigned to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) Trump rally and protest had no name tags or badges with numbers to identify them were circulated on social media.
Chief Flynn has not released any statement explaining why individual police officers failed to show their name tags or badge numbers at the UWM Trump anti-hate rally and protest.
Chris Ahmuty, the executive director for the ACLU-Milwaukee on Monday released the following statement, "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 nametags, 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."
Update: According to Milwaukee 3rd District Alderman Nic Kovac's Facebook posting on Arthur Gates' FB account, Kovac wrote, "Arthur, I got this response today from the police department: "I am following up regarding the photos you shared with me yesterday. 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.""
Ald. Kovac did not identify who responded from MPD to his inquiry about officers covering their name tags and badges.