The Chief
August 1, 2003

New P.D. Rule:

Cops Must Give Name if Asked

By Mark Daly

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association is grudgingly accepting a new Police Department rule that requires officers to give more complete identifying information upon request.

The change in the patrol guide came after the Civilian Complaint Review Board said complaints about officers refusing to give their names had nearly doubled in three years.

82% More Incognito

The CCRB logged 636 such complaints in 2002, an 82-percent increase from 2000, the second year it began logging the complaint. The board substantiated 28 of 180 such allegations in the first six months of 2002, a rate three times higher than for other complaints during the same period. In most cases, officers were cited for failing to respond at all when they were asked for their name and shield number.

The new regulations requires officers to “courteously and clearly” state their name, rank shield number and precinct or unit to anyone who asks, while allowing the person “ample time” to write it down.

In an interview with the Daily News, PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said through a spokesman that the new rules would give more ammunition to people who retaliate against officers “who are just doing their jobs.”

The CCRB was “delighted” at the rule, said Raymond W. Patterson, a board spokesman.

Before the change, the patrol guide told officers to give their names and shield numbers “to anyone requesting them” and to be “courteous and respectful.”

The implications of that wording have been explored in decision from Administrative Trials and Hearings, an agency which adjudicates cases of police misconduct that are referred to it.

“Administrative law cases on this aren’t definitive, but they suggest that officers have an affirmative duty to give people their name.” Mr. Patterson said. “Police officers would often say, ‘My name is on the summons,’ when it’s actually very difficult to read.”

The old rule required officers to give their names, “but it didn’t say how. This is the how,” Mr. Patterson said.

Inspector Michael Coan, an NYPD spokesman, said the rule was a reminder for officers “to be forthright, as we have in the past. We wanted to clarify our position.”

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly issued an interim order with the new rule on June 27 in response to the CCRB’s annual report, which first reported the rise in substantiated complaints.

The report said that complaints about officers refusing to identify themselves were 10 percent of the 544 complaints substantiated by the board in 2002.