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Buffalo Police enforcing new rules for officers' name tags and badge numbers

Buffalo Police Capt. Tommy Champion wears an extra large name tag and badge number on his uniform
Mike Desmond
Buffalo Police Capt. Tommy Champion wears an extra large name tag identifying his name, rank and badge number July 14, 2021.

After an uproar last year when some Buffalo Police officers covered their name tags during a protest outside Mayor Byron Brown's house, the department is reinforcing and expanding its rules to wear name tags with badge numbers.

During a community meeting Wednesday, Police Capt. Tommy Champion wore an extreme version that made it very clear what his name, rank and badge number were. His ID was so large it almost obscured that he was wearing his mandatory bullet-resistant vest. Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood said it met the department's new rules.

Lockwood said he wants the public to be able to identify an officer, especially if there is a problem. There is a long history in police departments of civilians not being able to identify an officer after some kind of an encounter.

"Yes, we went back to just not having a badge number. We've got the name tag on there, too," Lockwood said. "So all the officers that you see should have their name tags on, with their badge number right up under."

Lockwood said the new rules require that identification be very clear. The change came from community input.

"I want them to know who they are and if they have issues with them, I want them to get their name and their badge number. That's what the community was looking for and that's what we did," he said. "We put both of them out there. Usually, the badge number used to just be on the badge, where it's just smaller. Now, it's in bold print out there with the name."

A male uniformed Buffalo Police officer with his name tag covered
Mike Desmond
One of three uniformed Buffalo Police officers WBFO photographed with their name tag covered during a protest at Mayor Byron Brown's home in June 2020.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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