On Tuesday the Arizona Legislature passed a bill that would forbid any state agency from releasing the name of police officers who shoot a civilian when that shooting results in death or “serious physical injury.” The act would bar law enforcement, as well as all government entities, from releasing an officer’s name for 60 days following the incident. If the officer has a disciplinary record, or is disciplined as a result of the shooting, his name may still not be released for the full 60 days. The act now heads to Gov. Doug Ducey for a signature.
Supporters of the bill claim it is designed to protect law enforcement from harassment following a shooting. The Arizona Police Association strongly supports the measure, in part because its members are afraid that protesters will march in front of the homes of officers who shoot unarmed civilians. Critics insist that the bill will only exacerbate public frustration with the police by decreasing transparency and accountability. They also note that Arizona law already allows police to withhold sensitive information, like home addresses, of police officers when safety may be a concern.
The bill easily passed both houses of Arizona’s Republican-dominated legislature. The only real controversy was whether the gag order would last for 60 or 90 days, and whether law enforcement could ever release information about disciplinary proceedings against officers involved in shootings. Ducey, a Republican, has not yet declared whether he will sign the bill into law.