Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives have passed a bill that blocks public officials from immediately releasing the names of officers involved in shootings.
Lawmakers claim the new policy will aim to protect the officers and their families when such incidents occur, but the timing of the bill’s passage seems highly questionable given the increased scrutiny over police involved in fatal confrontations, particularly with black men.
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Although the bill passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives 151-32 soon after it was passed by the state Senate, it is unclear whether or not Democratic Governor Tom Wolf will sign it into law.
The current law allows officials to decide when they want to release the name of an officer found in a situation where he or she has had to use force. Under the new policy, officials would be forced to keep the officer’s name under wraps until at least 30 days after the incident or until the official investigation is concluded.
According to Reuters, officials who violate the law will be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.
The bill has been heavily criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union, which called it “a policy that will heighten tensions between the police and the communities they serve” and “completely tone deaf to the needs of communities that are impacted by police brutality.”
“Do not undermine the bridges that have been built between law enforcement and communities of color,” said Rep. Margo Davidson during a floor debate. “This legislation will do nothing but breed suspicion.”