Sun, Jun 15, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Group pressures police force on frontal name tags

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Several civic groups, led by the Alliance for Police Reform, urged the National Police Agency yesterday to start requiring that on-duty officers wear name tags as the first step in achieving more transparency within the force.

“It’s a basic thing for a public servant to show his or her identity when on duty,” convener of the alliance Ma Chai-chin (馬在勤) told a press conference in Taipei. “In most countries, police officers are required to wear name tags — even officers in China wear their police identity number on their front pocket.”

At present, police officers are only required to wear a badge on the side showing their police identity number as well as the police precinct to which they are attached.

“It’s not always easy to see it,” Ma said.

Another problem arises when an officer puts on a jacket or rain coat, which hides the badge.

“Without name tags, it is difficult for people to file complaints if they run into bad officers and also makes it hard to identify the good ones,” he said.

“A name tag could also serve as a reminder to officers that they should act according to the law,” Ma said. “It’s a first step toward creating more transparency in the police system.”

Hsiao Yi-ting (蕭怡婷), a representative from the Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters, backed the proposal.

“Many sex workers in Taiwan face sudden checks and interrogation by police — and with a very bad attitude [on the part of some police officers],” Hsiao said. “They’re often under tremendous pressure because they don’t know who is interrogating them. Knowing the officers’ name would at least give them a chance to file complaints when necessary.”

The groups urged the agency to respond positively and quickly to their call.

“We made the same request last year and asked the agency to make the changes within a year, but the call was never answered,” it said in a statement said. “If the agency continues to ignore our demand, we will report it to the Control Yuan for investigation.”

The agency declined to comment yesterday.

“This is something that needs further deliberation and as it’s not something serious or urgent, we’ll deal with it on Monday after we return to work,” agency spokesman Chen Kuo-en (陳國恩) told the Taipei Times via telephone.

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