I call upon my fellow Pennsylvanians to contact their state senator and Gov. Wolf to oppose Pennsylvania House Bill 27. It has no official name, but I call it “The Secret Killer Cop Protection Act of 2017.” HB27 is the same as one that was vetoed last year by Gov. Wolf. HB27 recently passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and is currently being reviewed by the Senate Law and Justice Committee.
HB27 would require police departments to keep secret the names of police officers involved in deadly force incidents for at least 30 days. After that, the names could still be kept from the public if there is a claim by the police officer that he or she fears retaliation.
This bill is the brainchild of state Rep. Martina White. She says it is needed because police officers might be threatened with retaliation. Not surprisingly, the bill is supported by Philadelphia’s police union. They endorsed White in her last two elections and no doubt see this as payback for their loyalty.
Despite White’s claims that this law is needed, there has never been a documented incident in Pennsylvania where someone took the publicly announced name of a police officer and used it to retaliate. The head of Philadelphia’s police union, John McNesby, admitted that in an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2015. And there are already laws in Pennsylvania that make it a separate crime to retaliate against a public employee. So there really is no need for this law.
On the other hand, this law will cause serious problems. Rogue cops who already think they can get away with abuse will be even more encouraged to do so because their identity can be protected from the public. Overall public confidence in our police department will go down. If we are going to have certain people given the power to use deadly force in our name, we have the right to know who they are and when they use it. And if they have done nothing wrong, they should have nothing to hide. The best way to avoid being held responsible by the public for your actions is to make sure that the public doesn’t even know who you are in the first place. HB27 will allow that to happen. We do not need that. We must say no to secret killer cops in Pennsylvania.
Michael L. Bane