Congress

New bill would require federal officers to wear identification

In the wake of controversy surrounding the decision to deploy federal law enforcement officers without any identification to deal with protesters in Portland, Oregon, two House Democrats plan to introduce legislation that would require all officers to wear such identification in the future.

The Law Enforcement Identification Transparency Act of 2020, introduced by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., would require both federal and local law enforcement to wear their name, agency and badge number on their uniform at all times they are on duty.

“As we have seen, when police are needed, it is often all ‘hands on deck.’ While local police are often identified, there is no federal statute requiring it. This bill anticipates and seeks to prevent issues we have seen with federal police in recent weeks,” said Norton in a statement.

Criticism of the deployment of federal officers to Portland has pointed to both the tactics used by those officers and the inability to hold individuals or agencies accountable for those actions because the officers wear no identifying information.

“Secret police snatching Americans off of street corners and shooting rubber bullets at peaceful demonstrators is something we would expect to see in an authoritarian state, not outside the White House. Yet, that is our current reality,” said Ocasio-Cortez in the news release.

“This bill will increase accountability and oversight for law enforcement. Currently, law enforcement can violate an American’s First Amendment rights with complete anonymity. If an officer violates their agency’s policies, their victim should have the ability to report them to their agency and demand accountability.”

The legislation gives federal agencies 90 days from the date of enactment to begin using such identification and to collect information on when identification policies were violated. State and local agencies would have to enact “substantially similar” policy to be eligible for certain federal funds.

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