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Name Tags may Prevent Police Violence

A new bill aims to prevent police violence by forcing officers to identify themselves. Supporters seek help from public.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 3/4/2011, 10:31 AM / Last Update: 3/4/2011, 11:03 AM

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On Sunday, the cabinet will vote on a bill aimed at curbing police violence by forcing officers at protests to wear name tags. National Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovich opposes the proposed law, while others remain on the fence.

Proponents of the bill say that police violence has been noticeably higher at protests where officers were allowed to cover their name tags. One major example is the demonstration in Amona in early 2006, in which dozens of protesters were injured by police violence. Officers in Amona were allowed to cover their name tags, and many of the offending officers were tracked down only years later, thanks to video evidence, or were never identified.

A more recent case is the events at Gilad Farm (Havat Gilad) in Samaria in the past week. Unidentified officers fired plastic bullets at residents of the farm as the latter struggled against the destruction of their homes. Residents accused the police of a highly disproportionate use of force.

While police are required to wear name tags under normal circumstances, until now they have been allowed to cover their names at some times in order to prevent criminals from taking revenge on individual officers or their families. The bill would not prevent officers from covering their names when on special operations, but would limit their ability to do so at protests.

The Cities of Israel (Mattot Arim) praised the bill as “a law that would prevent violence, and maybe even save lives.”

“An officer whose identity is known will not want to use violence,” activists explained. Cities of Israel called on the public to contact ministers and ask them to support the bill at Sunday's cabinet meeting. If any minister votes against the bill “we will remember that he allowed the disgraceful violence to continue,” the group warned.