Calling it a matter of public safety, state lawmakers took the first steps Wednesday to let police departments keep secret for up to 90 days the names of officers who kill or seriously injure others.

SB 1445 would create a special exception from laws which generally require that official records be made public. Sen. Scott Smith, R-Maricopa, cited two incidents in which he said officers who were identified were threatened.

That 90 days, he said, will give an officer a chance to go into what he said would be a sort of witness protection program ensuring the safety of the officer.

Chris Moeser, an attorney representing The Arizona Republic and KPNX-TV, called the legislation "bad public policy," saying it runs counter to the presumption that official documents are available to the public. But beyond that, he said it is unnecessary.

He said state laws already allow police to withhold things like a police officer's name and photograph "if there is credible information of specific material risk." And Moeser said once a police department makes that claim, a court can decide who is correct.


Related Practices

Government Relations, Regulatory Affairs and Contracting
Media and Entertainment Law