Whether because of intense media scrutiny, public outcry, or both, the names of officers involved in police shootings more often than not become a matter of public record. This has already happened on numerous occasions in the past year — like the shooting death of Terrence Sterling by Brian Trainer in Washington, D.C., or the accidental killing of a six-year-old boy by Derrick Stafford and Norris Greenhouse in Louisiana. Yet counter-protest movements such as Blue Lives Matter are pushing back, as are legislators who want more protections for the nation’s uniformed men and women.
Hence Pennsylvania Rep. Martina White’s (R-Philadelphia) measure banning the public release of the names of officers involved in police shootings. According to Philly.com, the legislation flew through the state’s Republican-controlled congress without significant interference from Democrats and other lawmakers opposed to it.
“We are the protectors of our protectors,” said supporter and Rep. Dominic Costa (D-Pittsburgh). Meanwhile, opponent and fellow Democrat Rep. Margo Davidson warned against “[undermining] the bridges that have been built between law enforcement and communities of color.”
If the bill passes, public officials wouldn’t be allowed to disclose an officer’s identity until 30 days after the shooting incident took place. That, or not until after the official investigation concludes and releases its findings to the public. Anyone not affiliated with the offices of the Attorney General or the District Attorney could face a second-degree misdemeanor if they’re caught violating the new law. However, the bill requires the approval of Pennsylvania’s Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, who hasn’t indicated whether he will sign it or not. If he chooses to veto it, both the state House and Senate possess enough votes to override the governor’s decision.