Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler told WW during an interview Oct. 8 that he has directed the Portland Police Bureau's legal counsel and human resources department to find an alternative to PPB officers covering their name badges during protests.
"I have already directed them to work with the legal counsel and HR in the city of Portland to find an alternative that does not obscure who they are," Wheeler said. "Certainly we should hear and appreciate their concerns. But I believe that concern is outweighed by the public right to know who our officers are and to be able to hold us all collectively accountable for decisions they make in the field."
Permission to cover badges followed a directive issued by the previous chief, Jami Resch. Since June 6, PPB officers have been allowed to cover the name tags on their badges with tape that shows their personnel number.
PPB said it feared its officers being doxxed by protesters—that is, having their names, home addresses and other personal information posted online—and that the personnel numbers still allow for them to be identified. But as WW reported previously, the city has refused to hand over a list of names and badge numbers that correspond with the personnel numbers, rendering the officers who cover their badges virtually unidentifiable.
That anonymity was illustrated after WW published several reports about an officer who wears the helmet number 67 and has been accused publicly of four separate instances of assault against protesters. The city's police oversight board, called Independent Police Review, is working to identify that officer.
Wheeler says officers' fear of doxxing is overstated and, in the instance of violence against protesters, the public's right to know an officer's identity outweighs the officer's right to privacy.
"On the one hand, I get it, that they're concerned about potentially being doxxed," Wheeler said. "I will tell you personally, as somebody who gets doxxed all the time, I believe that concern is overstated. I don't think that our officers are truly being put at risk, but I understand and I hear what they are saying."