Tag Archives: Police Protection

PA State Rep. To Propose Bill Protecting Identities Of Officers During Use Of Force Investigations

Pennsylvania State Rep. Martina White (R-170) unveiled a proposal Wednesday to revoke a recent Philadelphia Police Department policy that releases the names of officers in police-involved incidents of violence.

White announced her plan Wednesday at Philadelphia’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 headquarters and was joined by FOP members including president John McNesby. The legislation announcement “would bar police departments from releasing the names of officers involved in violent confrontations while an investigation is ongoing,” according to White’s press release.

White said that she created the legislation due to cases in which police officers have gone into hiding or resigned despite being cleared of violations. “Our own public officials shouldn’t be the ones handing over officer’s information which can lead criminals to them and their families where they can take vengeful actions. It’s wrong and now is the time to do something about it,” White said.

“Supporting this bill means protecting the identity of an officer while he or she is being investigated for discharging a firearm or using force in the line of duty until criminal charges have been brought against the officer,” White said. “Once the investigation is complete, criminal charges have been filed, and the life of the officer and his or her family members are not in danger, then it is to the discretion of the public official to disclose the officers’ information.”

Before making this announcement, White had written a memorandum in early August outlining her intent to introduce such legislation:

[quote_box_center]In the near future I will be introducing legislation that pending an investigation that involves the discharge of a firearm or use of force by a law enforcement officer during the performance of their official duties, the name and identifying information of the law enforcement officer may not be released to the public. At the conclusion of the investigation, the information may be released to the public only if the law enforcement officer is charged with a criminal offense relating to the discharge of a firearm or use of force. The officer’s information may not be released unless the officer is charged with a criminal offense or if the information released can be expected to cause harm to the officer or their immediate family.[/quote_box_center]

White’s legislation appears to be a direct rebuke to a policy announced by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey in July in which the Philadelphia Police department would release the name of an officer involved in a shooting within 72 hours. An exception was made for officers who had threats made against them. The policy was recommended by the Department of Justice as well as Ramsey’s presidential task force. It was quickly challenged by the FOP. The FOP claimed the policy was made “without negotiating with or securing the approval of the FOP.”

White, a 26-year-old financial adviser, won a vacant House seat during a special election in March, winning 57 percent of the votes. White and Democrat Sarah Del Ricci sought the position previously held by Democrat Brendan Boyle; Boyle left the seat when he was elected to the U.S. House. White defeated Del Ricci by 13 percentage points in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1.

White received support and endorsements from several unions, including the Philadelphia Fire Fighters’ & Paramedics Union, the Laborers District Council, and Philadelphia’s Fraternal Order Of Police. According to Philadelphia Magazine, the Philadelphia FOP donated $5,000 to White one month before the election, and White hosted her post-election victory party at the FOP’s headquarters.

White’s bill is expected to be made public on Sept. 4.

Arizona Bill To Conceal Police Identities Involved In Use-Of-Force Incidents Meets Public Opposition

Senate Bill 1445, legislation that would delay releasing identities of police officers involved in serious use-of-force incidents, passed the Arizona House of Representatives last Wednesday with a 44-13 vote. The bill has been met with opposition from residents and civil rights advocates who seek transparency from police departments.

SB 1445 would limit “the release of the name of a peace officer who is involved in a use of deadly physical force incident for 60 days.” The bill would also require departments to redact identifiers in reports that contain information regarding disciplinary actions against involved officers. The 60-day delay would not apply when a criminal investigation is completed or if state criminal procedure requires the release of information. The delay is also voided if an involved officer is arrested, charged or indicted on charges related to the incident. An officer may bypass the delay by consenting to identification in writing.

An earlier version of the bill, which passed the Arizona Senate in February 23-6, had contained a longer delay of 90 days.

According to The Phoenix New Times, SB 1445 sponsor Arizona state Senator Steve Smith said that the bill was introduced to prevent a “whimsical mob” from “roaming the streets looking for blood.” Opponents of the bill have pointed out that no Arizona officers involved in deadly use-of-force incidents have recently been injured as a result of public identification.

Supporters of SB 1445 call the 60-day delay a “cooling-off period” for the public. Former Phoenix police officer and Arizona Police Association executive director Levi Bolton said the bill will protect the welfare of police officers who are not suspects. “You still get the ‘when,’ the ‘where’ and the ‘how’ if we know it — you just don’t get the ‘who,'” Bolton said.

ACLU of Arizona executive director Alessandra Soler said that providing the names of officers involved in serious or fatal use-of-force incidents helps public trust in police departments, and passing this legislation would be harmful to oversight. “Police officers have an extraordinary power because they can detain, search, arrest and have the ability to shoot to kill,” she said. “That is when the transparency and accountability needs to be the strongest.”

“We need to be building trust and confidence between a community and police who protect it,” said Jeremy Helfgot, commissioner for the city of Phoenix Commission on Human Relations. “This is the Arizona Legislature inserting itself into that process and widening the gap, rather than making an effort of closing it.”

The bill is also opposed by the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police because police chiefs would no longer have the ability to use discretion when releasing names.

The ACLU of Arizona is hosting a rally scheduled for Tuesday, March 24th at 4:00 p.m. outside of the Arizona Executive Tower. Members of the Maricopa County branch of the NAACP, the Greater Phoenix Urban League and the Puente Human Rights Movement will reportedly be present at the rally in an effort to encourage Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to veto the bill.