A state representative wants would keep the names of law enforcement officers who fire their service weapons private until the conclusion of a formal investigation.
In a memo sent July 1, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey announced that the names of law enforcement officers involved in police-shootings will be released within 72 hours of the incident. The change is one of the Department of Justice’s recommendations.
Martina White (R-Philadelphia) has introduced a house bill to delay that release of information in situations when an officer isn't immediately charged.
“What my law would do is make sure that a full investigation has been completed first and then (officers) have been charged with some kind of a criminal act, so this way their lives and the lives of their families are protected,” said White.
Ramsey’s decision concerned White because she said it encourages public debate over why an officer might fire a weapon without the full story. A rush to judgment could become a safety issue for officers and their families, she said.
“I think (my) law would bring the public and our law enforcement closer together because we’re disclosing information in a fashion that doesn’t allow for assumptions to be made,” she said.
White’s bill would still follow the 72-hour rule for any law enforcement officer charged with a crime related to the discharge of their firearm.
“Then it is the digression of the public official to determine whether or not their life or the life of their family is in jeopardy, at which time they can release their name,” said White.
Currently, the bill has 53 co-sponsors and bipartisan support. White said she expects to see movement from the bill in late October or early November.
“My hopes are that our law enforcement officers and their families will be protected under this law and that the public will have a better understanding as to the circumstances surrounding their use of a service weapon instead of a rush to judgment, which is transpiring today,” White said.