After widespread criticism of a new Portland Police Bureau policy that allowed officers to obscure their name tags while working at protests, the bureau tonight said it would assign every officer a three-digit number that must be prominently displayed on officers' helmets at protests.
PPB also announced it had pulled five officers from the Rapid Response Team pending investigations into their behavior at protests. (Mayor Ted Wheeler previously announced three officers had been taken off the RRT; they are included in the total of five.)
"We support peaceful protest and understand that reforms to advance racial justice are necessary and overdue," said Deputy Police Chief Chris Davis in a statement. "We also want the public to be able to easily identify officers if they have concerns. That's why, beginning immediately, we are assigning every officer a three-digit number to be prominently displayed on the helmets required while performing crowd control duties."
The new numbering system will begin immediately, and all officers will have numbers on their helmets by Nov. 15, PPB said.
"The vast majority of police response meets or exceeds our standards, but there are times when we fall short," PPB Chief Chuck Lovell added. "We have heard the concerns from many community members and are working on solutions to address them. We continue to assess our policies and practices as well as identify where we can improve and grow to meet our community's expectations and enhance our service."
PPB also said it would move to embroidering names on officers' uniforms over time, but for now, officers will also wear "name badges" with their new three-digit numbers on them during protests.
"Being a police officer is hard and hazardous work on a good day, and Portland's police officers have been responding to protests, demonstrations, and other incidents for over several months. I want to thank each and every member of the Portland Police Bureau for the effort they put into serving this community this year," said Mayor Wheeler. "I also want to thank the bureau for responding to community concerns about officer identification and use of force."