Unions question naming officers in shootings

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A Philadelphia police union says officers involved in shootings who aren't being investigated for a crime should have their identities kept secret.

The reason is to protect themselves and their families, and naming the names of Texas police officers will soon become an issue.

Last week, Dallas police used deadly force on a man in south Dallas.

He had struggled with officers and had been tased twice. Police say had a box cutter when one officer made the deadly force decision.

The names of the officers involved were posted on the Dallas Police Department’s website.

The Fraternal Order of Police in Philadelphia is proposing legislation for the State of Pennsylvania that would prohibit any identifying information about an officer who used deadly force being released to the public unless the officer is charged with a criminal offense.

The Dallas Fraternal Order of Police says it will push similar legislation for Texas because, “Our families don’t need to be in danger based on what we ourselves do in the line of duty,” said Richard Todd with the Dallas F.O.P.

Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson released the name of former rookie officer Brad Miller, who shot and killed unarmed teen Christian Taylor.

The Arlington Municipal Police Association said Miller, his family and other officers received threats.

“We agree with the F.O.P. up in Pennsylvania,” said Dallas Police Association President Ron Pinkston.

Pinkston says there’s no reason to name names before indictment, especially in this anti-police season.

“We're gonna keep on putting their names out there and making them a bigger target?” said Pinkston. “Abilene has terrified law enforcement officers around the State of Texas.”

Abilene Officer Don Allen, 27, was recently found slain in his home

The full details have not yet been released in that case, but the FBI is heading up the investigation into why and who killed him.

Not every department operates the same. Fort Worth has yet to release the name of the officer who shot and killed a man near Sundance Square a month ago.

“It’s a terrible idea,” said Dallas attorney Geoff Henley.

He has represented families in deadly force cases.

“There have been way too many of these highly-publicized shootings, and people have suffered tremendously and people need to know,” said Henley.

Former Cockrell Hill Police Chief Catherine Smit-Torrez feels like not just police, but citizens charged with a crime, should be anonymous until at least indictment; maybe longer.

“When a final disposition comes to their court case, that’s when all the transparency is laid out,” said Smit-Torrez.

Opinions about police anonymity, or identity shield bills, widely vary.

Arizona’s Republican governor, the son of a police officer, vetoed a shield bill that would have protected officers’ identities for two months following a deadly force encounter.

The governor felt that setting an arbitrary benchmark for releasing names of officers would limit police chiefs’ ability to manage these kinds of situations and could, in his words, “Create unintended consequences.”