Last week, State Representative Martina White introduced House Bill 1538, a bill that would protect the names of police officers involved in officer related shootings until an investigation is complete, standing alongside Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby.
At the rotunda press conference, McNesby told the crowd that there is an outward disdain for police officers “not only in Philadelphia, but throughout, not only the Commonwealth, but through the country.” He goes on to call the bill “common sense legislation, which states that an officer’s name will not be released within three days, 72 hours, after an incident regarding a handgun.”
But is that the case?
First off, the number of officers killed in the line of duty is at 50 year lows. Secondly, is the bill designed to keep an officer’s name private after the 72 hour time limit?
On the second page of the bill, the police officer’s name and information “may be released to the public only if the law enforcement officer is charged with a criminal offense relating to the discharge of the firearm or use of force.” The bill goes on to explain when an officer’s name may not be released to the public, and it reads:
the law enforcement officer is not charged with a criminal offense relating to the discharge of the firearm or use of force; and
the release of the information can reasonably be expected to cause harm to the person or property of the law enforcement officer or an immediate family member of the law enforcement officer
According to the bill, if there are no charges filed against a police officer in an officer related shooting, the officer’s name will remain anonymous forever. This poison pill is designed to sweep an officer’s name under the rug and completely keep the public out of the loop when an officer is involved in a shooting and then cleared of any wrongdoing. One can only begin to imagine the possibilities of a police officer getting his or her name cleared from using their weapon or being involved in a physical altercation, remain out of the public record and then go on to become a repeat offender.