In a time when it would seem that more needs to be done to protect civilians from the police, the state of Arizona has taken a step towards protecting police officers even more than they are. The state legislature passed a bill that would forbid any state agency from divulging the names of police officers who shoot and kill or serious injure civilians.
If passed into law, government officials and law enforcement agencies would be barred from releasing the name of the shooting officer for 60 days following the incident. Even if that officer has a disciplinary record, or is being disciplined for the shooting in question, his or her name still would not be able to be released to the public for 60 days.
The decision is clearly influenced by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson’s shooting of teenager Mike Brown. Arizona legislators claim that aim of the bill is to insulate police officers from harassment by the public. The lawmakers fear that protesters would bring the demonstration to the officer’s doorstep.
Those in opposition to the bill feel that withholding a police officer’s name after a shooting will just rile protesters up even more. They also note that there is already a provision in Arizona law that allows police departments to suppress sensitive information, such as home addresses, should the safety of that officer’s safety be in jeopardy.
The bill to protect the identity of police passed through both Republican-dominated houses quickly. It is now awaiting the signature of Governor Doug Ducey for ratification.