7 minute read

The image of unidentified persons in standard military camouflaged uniforms snatching people off the streets of Portland, Oregon has caused concern even in Oklahoma City.

But, Free Press found that the two largest law enforcement agencies in Oklahoma County, the Oklahoma City Police Department and the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office have very clear policies that require their officers to identify themselves in any interview or arrest situation.

We will show you the concerns, the rules OCPD and OSCO officers have to follow and show you images of departmental patches and badges so you will know the difference if ever stopped.

The Concern

People in Portland are left wondering if they are being abducted by an unregulated militia wearing the same unis easily purchased on Ebay or by law enforcement officers.

The camouflaged battle dress uniform (BDU) being used by what are thought to be members of the Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Homeland security officers is the operational camouflage pattern or multicam which is a mix of brown, green and beige daubs. It is most widely used by the U.S. Army and National Guard. But, it is also being adopted by the Air Force and other branches for special purposes.

We put out a question on Twitter Monday evening if OKC residents thought the same thing could happen here. Responses were earnest, sobering, and threaded into Tuesday morning. We don’t have space to display them but here are some representative samples.

Spokespersons for the Oklahoma City Police Department (OCPD) and the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) were eager to reassure the public in answering questions from Free Press about what residents of the city and county should look for to clearly identify officers from those agencies.

Oklahoma City police officers

OCPD is clear that all officers in uniforms of any style are are easily identifiable from wearing their badges and departmental patches.

The gray uniform shirt with dark blue pants is the standard patrol uniform of OCPD with a shield-type badge and department patch on the upper sleeves (pictured).

police
Promotional photo from the OCPD website, 2020.

In summer months some officers are allowed to wear a gray polo-style uniform shirt with their badge and number embroidered where the badge would normally be placed.

Captain Larry Withrow with the OCPD said that their special units wear “non-standard” uniforms but they are not the standard military camo seen in Portland in the past week.

“Specialized units (bomb squad, tact team, Air Support, etc.) have uniforms which differ from the standard patrol uniform. They are easily recognizable as police uniforms,” said Withrow saying that badges and departmental patches are worn on those unis, too.

The closest OCPD comes to any kind of military-style BDU is their Tactical Team that wears the non-camo olive drab “O.D.” green uni with badges and departmental patches.

Withrow said that any time their tact team is working a situation they will be accompanied by officers wearing their standard patrol uniform.

Even plainclothes officers are expected to wear their shield near their service weapon and display it at first in any encounter.

In recent conflicts between police and crowds of protesters in late May and early June Oklahoma City Police remained in patrol uniforms even when using riot gear.

Withrow gave Free Press a paragraph out of their policy regarding how officers are supposed to identify themselves.

When it becomes necessary for an officer to arrest a person, the officer will identify himself or herself as a police officer, recognizing that some circumstances may exist that may make identification prior to the actual arrest impossible. Identification will not be necessary if the officer is in a department-approved uniform and is clearly visible to the person to be arrested. A plain-clothes officer shall display their badge prior to making the arrest.

The City of Oklahoma City does not have an ordinance that addresses the OCPD when it comes to officer identification.

Oklahoma County Sheriff’s deputies

“In all circumstances our deputies are required to verbally identify themselves at the beginning of an encounter both verbally and by showing their badge if they are an investigator wearing plain clothes,” said Mark Myers with the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s office.

The standard patrol uniform for deputies is black shirt and pants with a star-type badge and OCSO patches on the upper sleeves.

He said that only a small, specialized subgroup of their SWAT team, the precision rifle team, wears the standard camo military BDUs and that is for tactical reasons limited to their support of a SWAT action.

The bulk of the SWAT unit wears the O.D. green BDU with an embroidered badge and OCSO patch.

Federal officers?

In the past week unidentified people wearing standard camo gear and BDUs usually worn by several branches of the U.S. military have been seizing people off the streets in that city. They wear no agency patches and show no kind of credential even later, say those who have been abducted.

Homeland Security claims responsibility for sending the personel to the city under the pretext of defending federal government buildings there. They also say that the people seen wearing the uniforms are special units from Homeland Security, the Border Patrol, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

But, there is no way for the average citizen in Portland to tell who is grabbing them and putting them into rental vans, not reading Miranda Rights, and not identifying themselves even when the detainee is in their custody.


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