At a capitol news conference today, Senator John Rafferty (R-44) joined legislators in the Senate and House to introduce a bill that would prohibit police departments from releasing to the public the names of officers who discharge a firearm or use force as part of their official duties while an investigation is pending.
Rafferty said the legislation is intended to protect the identity and safety of officers and their families who may become the target of public abuse and violence simply because they were carrying out their mission to preserve public safety.
“We have seen a surge in the murder of law enforcement officers recently putting officers at even greater danger for retribution and violence,” Rafferty said. “These men and women proudly wear the badge and face danger on the job every day. In some cases, they may have to discharge a firearm or use force to maintain peace and security. In these cases, they should be afforded respect and protection for themselves and their families when an investigation is ongoing. Releasing their identities puts them at terrible risk simply for doing their job, and often leads to a presumption of guilt before the facts can be reviewed.”
Under Rafferty’s bill, at the conclusion of the investigation, the officer’s name and information on the incident may be released to the public only if the law enforcement officer is charged with a criminal offense relating to the discharge of a firearm or use of force.
Rafferty says his legislation strikes a balance between an officer’s right to protection and safety and the public’s right to know what occurred in incidents involving firearms or use of force.
“As someone who has the utmost respect for our law enforcement officials, I find it unfortunate that there is a growing ‘anti-cop’ mentality in many of our communities that is posing a real danger to police officers,” Rafferty said. “My legislation would ensure that officers and their families receive the protection they deserve when an incident occurs.”
CONTACT: Ryan Boop, Senator Rafferty’s Office, 717-787-1398