House votes to withhold names in officer-involved shootings

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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The state House voted Tuesday to enact a bill that would allow police agencies to withhold the names of officers involved in deadly use of force for their protection.

Debate continues to surround the measure, questioning whether it is necessary to protect officer safety or if it denies the public's right to know details of deadly force incidents like officer involved shootings.

The ACLU of Arizona held a protest at the State Capitol this morning in opposition of the bill. They say that the measure would undermine the public's ability to hold law enforcement accountable for abuses. 

In the wake of several high profile national incidents, namely the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, questions have risen about whether the privacy of officers involved in uses of deadly force should be protected. A local officer involved shooting last December that took the life of unarmed Romain Brisbon made headlines and stirred debate about withholding officer names.

Senate Bill 1445 would allow law enforcement agencies to withhold the names of officers involved in these incidents for 60 days. Unless the officer is arrested or a criminal investigation is complete, the public will not be able to find out the name of the officer.

The measure states that "a law enforcement agency or employing state or local governmental entity may not publicly release, the name of a peace officer who is involved in an incident that involves the use of deadly physical force and that results in either the death or serious physical injury of the officer or another person."

Supporters of the measure say that withholding officer names may provide time for tensions to cool down after a controversial incident. Some officers involved in high profile shootings have in the past received threats following use of deadly force situations.

Skeptics of the bill claim that this kind of secrecy threatens transparency and accountability in an already tense relationship between law enforcement and the public.

Senate Bill 1445 moved forward in the state House of Representatives and is preparing to move to a full vote in the House.

  • Should police departments withhold the names of officers involved in deadly use of force?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Yes, it's for the officers' safety.
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    No, the public has a right to know.
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