Yes, you read that title correctly
Check out the article here. In the wake of cases like John Greer. And countless national news headlines about police misconduct, the Virginia Senate has passed a bill that would prevent the disclosure of all police officer and deputy sheriff names in FOIA requests.
It appears that this bill was drafted in response to a November Court ruling that permitted the news paper The Virginia Pilot access to names, agencies, and employment dates for Virginia law enforcement. The news paper sought this information because it wanted to examine how often officers who got into trouble were able to find other jobs in law enforcement.
The argument in support of this bill: that our culture has changed and law enforcement is now subject to threats violence from the public, al-Qaida, ISIS, and apparently the hacking group Anonymous.
Look, I get that being in law enforcement is difficult. Most in law enforcement are good people just trying to do their jobs, like any of us. And, of course, no one wants to subject them to violence or harm. But this is NOT the answer.
In our criminal justice system, there must be MORE transparency, not less. If this bill is signed into law, it will place the General Assembly’s stamp on a truly concerning law. A law that says to the public that we do not have a right to know what is going on behind closed doors. And it will only widen the gap of trust between law enforcement and a skeptical public.
If you disagree with me, I want to hear why. Because, as it stands, I simply cannot believe that this bill would benefit our community in anyway.