House Bill Proposed to Block Release of Officers’ Names During Shooting Investigations

Written by on November 25, 2015

House Bill 1538 is an Act amending Title 44 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. If the bill becomes law in Pennsylvania, it would block the release of the identity of police officers involved in shootings while the incident is being investigated. Once the investigation is complete, the officer’s name could be released if he or she is charged with a crime, and as long as there is no threat against the officer.

The bill (full text available here) also creates the possibility for the public to never learn the name of an officer involved in a shooting.

Backed by the Fraternal Order of Police, the bill passed the house with bipartisan support last week. It has been fast-tracked and looks likely to pass unless there is outcry from the public urging members of the State Senate and  Gov. Wolf to veto it. The ACLU’s website has a dedicated page where Pennsylvania residents can send a “vote no” email to the representative for their district.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey has publicly stated that he is against the bill, but a number of officials, including State Senator Anthony Williams, are in favor of waiting to release officers’ names. Williams discussed his position during a November 17 call to “Wake Up With WURD” (comment is at 11:41):

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