A bill that would prevent the release of identifying information about police who kill people sailed through the Pennsylvania House last year is now being considered by the state Senate, to the dismay of Pennsylvania police reform activists. If the Senate, controlled by the Republican party as the House is, and Democratic governor Tom Wolf pass the bill, it would make the release of any information about police officers who kill or injure people illegal unless the officer is criminally charged—which almost never happens.
A Department of Justice report found that police in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's largest city, shoot and kill people at six times the rate the New York Police Department—no pacifist organization—does.
The ACLU of Pennsylvania has heavily opposed the bill. “We give our police officers a great deal of power, including the use of physical force, up to and including deadly force,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, in a statement. “It is crucial that transparency is coupled with that power."
Last year, Arizona governor Doug Ducey vetoed a similar bill, but a review of all fatal police shootings in 2015 by the Washington Post found that in 20 percent of the shootings, the names of the officers involved were never revealed.
The Pennsylvania bill is set to be heard by a state Senate committee Monday. Gov. Wolf's office gave a noncommittal statement to Philly Voice, saying that it expected the bill to receive several amendments in committee and couldn't comment before that happens.
Sam Stecklow is the Weekend Editor for Fusion.