Home News Virginia passes bill to protect officers by keeping their identities secret

Virginia passes bill to protect officers by keeping their identities secret

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2014 Opening session of the Virginia General Assembly.  Credit: Virginia Public Radio
2014 Opening session of the Virginia General Assembly. Credit: Virginia Public Radio


The Virginia Senate has passed a bill which would protect the identity of Virginia law enforcement officers.

The bill, spearheaded by Sen. John Cosgrove, (R-Chesapeake), would keep the names of all police officers and sheriff’s deputies secret. The law would also protect the identities of any local or state officer, including those from agencies such as the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the Virginia Marine Police, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

Cosgrove said he filed the bill, SB552, in response to a November court ruling allowing the local newspaper access to names, agencies and employment dates for current Virginia police officers. The Virginian-Pilot is looking into how often officers can find other jobs in law enforcement after getting into trouble.

The bill, which exempts law enforcement officers from Freedom of Information Act requirements, would protect officers and their families from being targeted for violence. Some VA state lawmakers, who opposed the bill, said keeping names of police secret would allow corruption, “such as a sheriff or police chief hiring a son-in-law or brother-in-law.”

But Cosgrove says, in this new culture that we live in — where police officers are considered “fair game” –this kind of protection is necessary.

Cosgrove cited a tabloid newspaper that flirted with the idea, this year, of publishing the names and addresses of all San Antonio city police officers. Although the editor-in-chief eventually backed off the idea, the paper was considering it to “protect the community following a fatal shooting by an officer.”

Senators voted 25-15 on Monday to pass the measure, which now moves to the House.

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