Should Police Officers be Entitled to Privacy While On Duty?

police-badgeThese days it seems like personal privacy is on everyone’s minds. From personal privacy to online privacy, everyone, including police officers needs to be well aware of their rights. There is a lot of controversy today regarding just how much privacy law enforcement officers are entitled to as they are public servants. In the U.K. the police are taking a close look at the amount of privacy their officers are currently accorded and wondering if they are being properly protected.

The Big Debate
The big debate at this time concerns whether or not a police officer should be required to wear a nameplate containing their surname on their uniform while on duty. The reason for this is the growing concern that doing so might well compromise the safety of the officer and his or her family. At the opposite side of the picture is the concern that not requiring an officer to wear such a nameplate could seriously affect the officer’s accountability.
In the U.K., the majority of police officers wear a badge with a number clearly displayed while they are on duty. According to reports published by the BBC, many police departments across the country no longer want their officers to be required to wear badges that contain identifying information as it poses a significant risk to the safety of their families. Those who are plain clothes officers must carry I.D. cards that contain far more detailed information, which must be displayed when asked.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles
In a statement issued by the Los Angeles Police Department Media Spokesperson, Joseph, “It has always been the policy of the L.A.P.D. for officers to wear nameplates displaying their surname. We want the community to know who we are. If a person is concerned about their own individual privacy being a police officer, then perhaps that individual should look for a different kind of job, since we serve the public every day and they should know who we are at all times.”

And in the City of New York, The N.Y.P.D. (the largest police department in the world with over 37,000 officers) depending on rank, officers are required to wear a badge that displays a badge number and the officer’s full name. They say that even though officers are faced with some of the worst gang activities in the world, they have yet to see any significant increase in actions against their officers due to the fact they wear such informative name tags.

While there is obvious serious concern for officers who wear badges that display their full name or even just their surname, there is little evidence to suggest that doing so places the officers and their families at significantly greater risks. However, research is still ongoing as this is still a relatively new area of concern to police officers not only across the country but around the world where the vast majority of uniformed police officers are still required to wear a name tag or badge that displays this personal information.

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