RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia State Police said in a response to the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia that the intentional covering of an officer’s name tag on their official uniform is not the department’s policy.
The civil rights organization contacted the VSP after on-duty officers working at a Sept. 16 event placed black tape over the name strips on their uniforms. Officers were on-site during a pro-Confederate rally near the Lee Monument.
“On-duty law enforcement officers should never attempt to hide their identities from the public they are policing,” said Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga.
The ACLU also pointed out that it is a felony for members of the public to conceal their identities. At the same rally, four people were arrested for wearing masks in public, a state law that Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham made clear would be enforced.
“These people are now facing possible prison time and lifelong ban on voting for the acts they committed, although their intent—to remain anonymous and avoid harassment—is the same as that of VSP officers who covered their nameplates,” the ACLU letter read.
Superintendent Colonel W. S. (Steve) Flaherty said the situation would not happen again.
“The Department’s employees are governed by strict standards of conduct, which includes certain aspects of their uniform appearance, and intentionally covering of one’s nametag on the official uniform is not the Department’s policy,” Flaherty said. “As such, we have taken appropriate action and instructed our supervisors to ensure this does not happen again.”