Po­lice mea­sures ad­vance in state Se­nate

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Tustin ktustin@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Kev­inTustin on Twit­ter

Two bills in the state Leg­is­la­ture that some say would pro­tect cops re­cently got a push.

Two bills in the state Leg­is­la­ture that some say would pro­tect cops got a push on Tues­day.

The Se­nate voted to move up from sec­ond con­sid­er­a­tion Tues­day House Bill 1538 to a third and fi­nal vote next week. Se­nate Bill 976 had its third and fi­nal vote Wed­nes­day, pass­ing 455. These bills limit in­for­ma­tion about po­lice in­volved in shoot­ings and reg­u­la­tions of body cam­eras, re­spec­tively.

Crit­ics say the mea­sures would limit the pub­lic’s right to know about the ac­tions of law en­force­ment.

SB 976 would amend the state’s Wire­tap Act to al­low po­lice of­fi­cers to wear body cam­eras with­out dis­clos­ing that an in­di­vid­ual is be­ing recorded when ex­e­cut­ing a war­rant, in an in­ter­ro­ga­tion room or if ex­i­gent cir­cum­stances are present. Of­fi­cers must still Mi­ran­dize per­sons upon their ar­rest, iden­tify them­selves as a po­lice of­fi­cer and must doc­u­ment the record­ing for ev­i­den­tiary pur­poses.

The bill also does not re­quire footage from an of­fi­cer’s cam­era to be re­leased to the pub­lic un­til all ap­peals, post-con­vic­tions and habeas cor­pus pro­ceed­ings on the record­ing have con­cluded.

In­tro­duced last year by state Sen. Ste­wart Green­leaf, R-12, of Up­per More­land, the bill has taken al­most a year to get to a third and fi­nal vote be­fore a fu­ture move to the House. Green­leaf Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Direc­tor Aaron Zap­pia said Tues­day the de­lay were amend­ments to the bill so po­lice did not run afoul of pri­vacy is­sues in pub­lic or pri­vate sit­u­a­tions.

The Se­nate also moved HB 1538 to a third and fi­nal vote which pro­vides guide­lines for when a po­lice depart­ment may publicly re­lease in­for­ma­tion about po­lice in­volved in shoot­ings.

The bill says the name and iden­ti­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion of an of­fi­cer may not be re­leased if an of­fi­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion has been ini­ti­ated into ac­tions that have re­sulted in the death or se­ri­ous bod­ily in­jury of a per­son. In­for­ma­tion will be re­leased at the end of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion if an of­fi­cer is charged with a crim­i­nal of­fense as a re­sult of fir­ing their gun or by use of force.

In­for­ma­tion may be with­held for 30 days af­ter the inci-

dent if it can be rea­son­ably ex­pected to “cre­ate a risk of harm to the per­son or prop­erty of the law en­force­ment of­fi­cer.”

Prime spon­sor Rep.

Martina White, R-170, of Philadel­phia, could not be reached for com­ment but wrote in a Face­book post: “This leg­is­la­tion is crit­i­cal as we’ve seen shoot­ings in­volv­ing po­lice of­fi­cers be­come so po­lit­i­cally charged that the of­fi­cers’ lives and their fam­i­lies can be en­dan­gered even if the use

of force was jus­ti­fied.

“While we need trans­parency when­ever po­lice are in­volved in a shoot­ing, we owe our of­fi­cers ba­sic pro­tec­tion from threats.”

Af­ter pas­sage from the Se­nate, the bill will go to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk to be signed.

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