Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) has vetoed a bill that would have prohibited disclosure of the names of police officers involved in shootings for 60 days, citing the potential unintended consequences of such a law:
“I know the goal of this legislation is to protect officers and their families, and it’s a goal I share… Unfortunately, I don’t believe this bill in its current form best achieves the objectives we share, and I worry it could result in unforeseen problems.”
While proponents argued that the bill was necessary to prevent officers from being unfairly targeted by mass protests or threatened with violence, opponents–including some in law enforcement–argued that transparency considerations and community relations outweighed that concern.
Roberto Villaseñor, chief of the Tucson Police Department and president of the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police, told the New York Times:
“To add another law that’s going to add distrust or adversarial relationships is not the way to go. Why do I cloak it in secrecy for 60 days, and now I’m going to have this story run twice? Sixty days later, we’re going to rehash it again.”
The opaqueness of government behavior, especially surrounding the government’s use of violence, has eroded the rule of law and the relationship between civilians and police around the country. Transparency about police shootings is a necessity for effective reform and accountability. We need more transparency, not less.
Good for Governor Ducey and the Arizona law enforcement officials who stood against more police secrecy.