Oakland cops complicit in covering name-badges at Occupy protests disciplined

Remember this video, in which protesters ask an Oakland PD officer why he illegally covered his name-badge, then, when he won't answer, ask a supervisor why this was so? Well, both the cop and his supervisor have been disciplined for their roles in the incident (the cop for covering his badge, the supervisor for failing to report the illegal conduct). The supervisor, formerly a lieutenant, has been busted down to sergeant, and the officer has been suspended for a month (no word on whether he will be paid during the suspension, which he is appealing).

After an internal investigation, Hargraves was ordered suspended for 30 days, and Wong was demoted to sergeant for failing to report the incident to internal affairs, said the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity because the department considers the case a confidential personnel matter...

"[An video the officer had seen on the net involving another officer] called for violence against the officer, including burning down his home," Hargraves wrote. "This caused me great concern for the safety of my family."

But civil rights attorney Jim Chanin said Wednesday, "That's like saying that you can steal from a store because you're poor. If you take that to its logical conclusion, every police officer every day faces possible exposure and danger because their names are on their badges."

Chanin added, "Officer Hargraves could have asked to get an undercover assignment. He could have asked to be taken off duty that day. Instead, he decided to go and get his pay and violate the law. There's no excuse for that."

Oakland cops disciplined for name-covering episode (via JWZ)


  1. For many officers suspension with pay might as well be suspension w/o pay.  Overtime and extra duty make up a very significant part of many of their incomes.

    Now if we’d only pay enough that we could be a bit more selective on who we hire in the first place…

    1. I’m pretty sure getting paid your normal salary for not working still counts. It’s not like they’re waiters who make a living off of tips – their pay is easily in the range of livable. Overtime and extra details are just that.

  2. That’s a completely bullshit illogical argument.

    If you steal from a store, even if you are starving, it is still breaking the law.
    If you pepper spray and beat people as a civilian it’s against the law.
    If you pepper spray and beat people as a LEO for no apparent reason, it should be against the law (it’s just more blurred because the law is the one doing it.)

    This is as simple as 1+1=2.  If you don’t do stupid stuff in the first place no one is going to “go after your family” just because you are a cop.

    1. I believe the jerk had to beg off duty or stand up there like a good cop and expose his name.


      to say “If you don’t do stupid stuff in the first place no one is going to ‘go after your family’ just because you are a cop” is just plain ignorant of the violent gangs and unstable individuals who exist in this world.

      (mind you I know the media exagerates just how many crazies there are)

  3. How utterly pathetic has our society turned that we applaud the LAPD for doing what is right?  Is that what they are paid for?  Is that what we should expect from everyone that is a civil servant in some form?

    1. I don’t think it’s pathetic.  It’s hard to run a society well, there are so many wrong ways to do it and so few right ways.  I do think it’s a victory when communities with internal conflicting interests find healthy ways of balancing those conflicts.  And I think it’s completely worth recognizing and, yes, even applauding when an organization like the Oakland PD does the right thing.

      Positive reinforcement is more effective than negative reinforcement.  If all you can do is complain about what’s wrong people stop taking you seriously and dismiss you as someone who simply cannot be satisfied (ref: Glenn Greenwald; I like Glenn but I get the impression not too many people take him seriously because of his tendency to find the negative in everything).  If you can recognize when people get it right, though, people are going to be much more willing to listen to you when you point out something that is wrong.

    2. Recognizing virtuous behavior when you see it and pointing it out to others keeps the whole thing from falling apart. Why would you point out evil but not good? Good doesn’t just happen you know, you have to build a structure of values and social reinforcement around it so that it keeps happening. We’re not just little islands of intention bashing into each other, we’re connected creatures, and expecting people to do good in total isolation with no reward other than their own internal sense of self-worth and righteousness is conduct expected of saints. We’re not saints. Even saints aren’t saints. People need help with this stuff (obviously), and it’s not going to get better if no one says “That was a good thing” and keeps saying, “Well, that was a good thing, but all that other shit you did was bad and I’m going to keep reminding you of it until you’re so sick of hearing it that you stop trying.”

  4. Legal issues aside, I’m not altogether unsympathetic with a cop who would want to cover his name, given the sheer volume of media recording devices at a protest like that. If his name is broadcast on the internet, he becomes vulnerable to all manner of harassment and threats. I’m sure that’s an acceptable risk to plenty of protesters and civilians alike–which makes it all the more understandable.

    1. I’m going to cover up my name on my driver’s license with tape. I saw a video on the Internet where a police officer harassed and threatened an innocent person.

  5. Based on the information here, I think this is a fairly reasonable outcome. A proportional response. The officer committed an offense that is more symbolic than anything and has received an appropriate slap on the wrist that will be part of his permanent file. The lieutenant committed a more serious breach of discipline and has been smacked down with a significant loss of position.

    Not every screw-up can or should result in the harshest possible punishments.

    1. I’m not sure that Hargraves’ offense was merely “symbolic”: he would have known that covering his badge was contrary to regulations, and he would have known why as well. Police covering their badges before dealing with demonstrators has a long and frightening history.

      The lieutenant’s punishment may hurt his career, but probably not his popularity with other cops: they will remember that he chose not to finger one of his men to IA, and that he paid a price for it.  

    2. It is surprising that they received any kind of punishment. They both should have been , at the very least, completely kicked off the force.  You re a police officer, you cover your badge, it means you intend to commit a crime.  no question.  no interpretation.  If you commit a crime, and you re a police officer, then you should no longer be a police officer.  It s very simple.  You cover your badge, then you should get out of law enforcement and go work for the local asshole.

  6. Now if they would only punish officers who commit more serious crimes like rape, murder, kidnapping, theft, and extortion…

  7. This has been bugging me for a while. *isn’t* it illegal? Is an apparent crime not an apparent crime just because a cop did is the suspect? Why don’t events like the punching of the lady on the bus the other day result in arrests? Why do they end up as “administrative actions” (at best) instead of arrests?

  8. meanwhile, how’s the internal investigation going on the pepper-spraying incident? haven’t heard much follow-up about that, have we?

  9. I feel bad for Wong.  He noticed something illegal happening and stopped it.  Ultimately, that’s what the police are for.  Is the officer who took his lieutenancy as likely to correct their subordinates’ bad behavior?

    1. I feel bad for Lt. Wong, too. He took care of the problem on the spot. He should be congratulated for dealing with the situation; instead he was demoted.

      1. If cop shows are realistic, then failing to report something to IA is three hundred million times worse than mass murder.

      2. I too initially felt bad for Lt. Wong, but then I realized that his punishment will have a far greater effect than that of Officer Anonymous: superior officers everywhere will pay more attention to whether their officers follow regulations. Lt. Wong did the right thing when the problem was brought to his attention, but there shouldn’t have been a problem in the first place.

        “First rule of leadership: everything is your fault!”

  10. Hi Folks. Good journalism! The cop was out of line hiding his badge. When I went to school years ago in Criminal Justice, a field I never actually worked in, it was drilled into everyone NOT to refuse to identify yourself. Most of the students went to work as cops or in corrections, both fields where there can be times where they may have their families threatened, so I do understand the concern of the cop … but it’s still not an excuse to refuse to identify ones self. On the other hand, anyone associated with the Occupy movement (if it IS the case) should not be doing something or making threats that would make a copy fear for his family. The movement is supposed to be nonviolent and any action of that type will hurt it.

    Lynn in New Orleans, LA.

  11. Oh My God, did they really reprimand police officers?  This happens?  Ok so just to be clear, beating people senseless=OK, pepper spraying innocent people directly in the face when the can itself says 20feet=OK, but covering your name tag is a BIG NO NO?

    Why dont they beat and arrest all the cops who shot people with rubber bullets in the face, all the cops who beat people nearly half to death, the ones that nearly blinded a woman and beat a vet so badly he forgot his name?

    Just another veiled attempt at portraying justice, in reality paid vacation for what he did is not right, he should be at least off without pay, if not fired.  He went there to hide what he was about to do.  No different then putting on a mask before a robbery.   The police should be ashamed of themselves for their actions, but sadly they see it as fun/ many are too far gone to even realize the errors in their ways.

    1. Just another veiled attempt at portraying justice, in reality paid vacation for what he did is not right

      It seems punching out old ladies results in a month paid ‘suspension’. It is surprising more old ladies are not getting the tar beatin out of them by the Boys in Blue.

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