Pa. Senate committee votes to protect police names after use of force

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Public officials would be barred from immediately releasing the names of police officers involved in shootings under a bill approved Monday by a state Senate committee.

The Senate Law and Justice Committee unanimously passed an amended House Bill 1538 that would keep the officer’s name confidential for 30 days. A version approved by the state House would have kept the officer’s name confidential until the end of an “official investigation.”

The Senate version also exempts district attorneys and the state attorney general from the ban.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia), has said shootings involving police officers have become so politically charged that the lives of the officers and their families can be endangered even if the use of force was justified.

This is one way to help protect them from unnecessary threats and allow the facts to come out so the good cops aren’t tried by the public and the bad ones are tried by the courts,” White said in a statement.

Andy Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said the bill would heighten tensions between the police and the communities they serve.

“It may be a better bill than it was, but it is still terrible law,” Hoover said in a statement. “A 30-day blackout is better than one that is indefinite, but the bill is still completely tone deaf to the needs of communities that are impacted by police brutality.”

The legislation now heads to the full Senate for its consideration.

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