Superintendent of state police says troopers won’t cover nametags again
Virginia State Police took “appropriate action” after some troopers violated policy by covering their nametags with what appeared to be black tape during a pro-Confederate protest in Richmond.
“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. As such, we have taken appropriate action and instructed our supervisors to ensure this does not happen again,” wrote Col. W. Steven Flaherty, the state police superintendent, in an Oct. 3 letter to the Virginia ACLU.
A photo of a trooper with his nametag covered during the Sept. 16 protest and counterprotest generated questions on social media, where some people wondered if troopers who concealed their names were violating state law or police policy. The state police Twitter account that day posted a tweet saying the action was permitted. Department
spokeswoman Corinne Geller later said some troopers had been “trolled” on their social media accounts, but she declined to offer any details.
The ACLU sent a letter to Flaherty raising concerns.
“Public officials performing their duties in public should be readily identifiable on sight by the members of the public they serve,” wrote ACLU Virginia Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga.
“Lack of transparency and accountability that encourages an atmosphere of secrecy and anonymity in policing only serves to undermine trust between the public and law enforcement. This is especially true where, as here, officers concealed their identities in circumstances where it is a felony for members of the public to conceal theirs for similar reasons.”
In his reply, Flaherty wrote, “Please be assured that I value your comments regarding this incident and appreciate you bringing this matter to our attention. I hope you find this information reassuring, and thank you for this opportunity to respond to your concerns.”
Virginia ACLU spokesman Bill Farrar said by email: “We appreciate the superintendent’s commitment to do the right thing by clarifying to all officers that this activity is prohibited.”
Some troopers hid their nametags during rallies on Monument Avenue in Richmond on Sept. 16.