A photo is going viral on social media showing a federal agent holding a gun in Portland, Oregon while wearing what appears to be a patch that reads “ZTI.” Some people on social media are speculating that this is connected to a private company called ZTi. However, that is not accurate. The patch actually reads ZT1 and is part of an identifier system that federal agencies are using right now in Portland instead of placing an officer’s name on the uniform.
Here’s what you need to know.
The ZT-1 Patch Is a Personal Identifier So the Names of the Agents Aren’t Known Publicly
The post, which has gone viral on social media sites like Facebook, shows what looks like a federal agent in a camo-uniform in Portland wearing a U.S. Marshalls patch and a patch that looks like it says either “ZT-I” or “ZT-1.” Other posts show an agent with a patch that reads “SRT,” with similar paramilitary claims.
Here’s an example of one of the many posts that have gone viral. This one was shared on Facebook by Mike Karl and, as of the time of publication, has 422 comments and 3,330 shares.
Karl wrote on Facebook: “This picture is from Portland. The picture is crazy as it is, but when you notice the outfit, you see ZTi. ZTi is a private company that provides personnel and clients include homeland security and department of defense. It’s on their own website. Let me be clear, these ‘federal’ agents are a private militia groups no different then black water back in Iraq. You should be worried. We all should be extremely worried.”
However, it appears that the patch is not a patch identifying the person as working for the personnel group ZTi or any other paramilitary or militia group. Instead, it’s a patch with a code that’s used to identify the federal agent wearing the uniform, since federal agents in Portland are not wearing patches with their names at this time.
In the video below, the Department of Homeland Security shares the meaning of the patches in a briefing at around the 23-minute mark.
Mark A. Morgan, senior official performing the duties of the U.S. Customs Commissioner, noted in the press conference:
They have a unique identifier. [The director] said he doesn’t have his officers wear name tags because they’re being doxxed. And that’s exactly right. … They’re not only jeopardizing the lives of the agents, but they’re also jeopardizing the lives of their families as they’re putting out their home information and they’re suggesting that individuals go to their homes. So yes, I as the acting commissioner have authorized and supported removing their names from their uniforms. Instead what we have though is a personal identifier. So we have that so we can identify. And we have each identifier associated with a specific name so we have all that information internally, and we’ll share that with the appropriate entities when it’s necessary.”
In the Homeland Security briefing, the example of an identifier patch had the label DZ1 on it. Morgan also addressed this in a series of tweets on July 17.
Our personnel are clearly marked as federal LEOs & have unique identifiers. You will not see names on their uniforms b/c these same violent criminals use this information to target them & their families, putting both at risk. As Acting Commissioner, I will not let that happen!
— CBP Mark Morgan (@CBPMarkMorgan) July 17, 2020
He wrote on Twitter: “Our personnel are clearly marked as federal LEOs & have unique identifiers. You will not see names on their uniforms b/c these same violent criminals use this information to target them & their families, putting both at risk. As Acting Commissioner, I will not let that happen!”
The Cato Institute reported that the ZTi seen on one patch was an example of those identifiers.
Here’s another version of the photo that has gone viral, in meme form:
One person who shared the photo on Facebook later updated the photo and wrote an apology, saying the rumor had been false.
Here’s the original tweet that the viral photo came from. It was part of a series of photos taken by Mathieu Lewis-Rolland, shared on July 21 on Twitter.
Please pay attention. Lives are going to be lost in Portland. pic.twitter.com/eNgFOr3OKF
— Mathieu Lewis-Rolland (@MathieuLRolland) July 21, 2020
These photos were indeed from Portland, so that part of the viral message is authentic. However, a look at the other agents in the photos shows that each has a different patch with a different series of letters and the numbers on it.
Seth Abramson of Newsweek also tweeted about the identifiers, using a different photo.
PHOTO: So I found an example—and wow, I can see how this'd confuse the hell out of everyone. Apparently CBP, BORTAC, and other DHS agents in Portland are in some cases wearing fake, DOJ-violative name tapes with "unique [random] identifiers"…. and in some cases they have these: pic.twitter.com/9xzxgAMBgZ
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) July 24, 2020
Abramson wrote: ” So I found an example—and wow, I can see how this’d confuse the hell out of everyone. Apparently CBP, BORTAC, and other DHS agents in Portland are in some cases wearing fake, DOJ-violative name tapes with ‘unique [random] identifiers’…. and in some cases they have these…”
Just as the ZTi rumor was incorrect, the rumor about SRT was also wrong. The rumor said that SRT on the patch stood for Special Reconnaissance Team and identified as a private security company (which you can see in the photo above). Once again, this was not accurate. These are not paramilitary identifiers, but are instead random identifiers on the patches to keep the agents’ names private from the public.
ZTI Solutions’ Website Went Down from Exceeding Bandwidth
The ZTi rumor has spread so fast that ZTI Solutions’ website was down when Heavy visited, with an error noting that the bandwidth limit had been exceeded.
ZTI Solutions, LLC provides consulting and staffing solutions for federal, Department of Defense, and commercial organizations, according to their website. But they are not identified on the patches that went viral. The patch in the photo is a random string of numbers and letters used to identify the federal officer wearing the uniform.