Missouri legislator pushed to have names of police in officer involved shootings kept secret

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by Robin Smith / News 4 and Dan Greenwald / KMOV.com

KMOV.com

Posted on August 21, 2014 at 6:40 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 21 at 7:06 PM

(KMOV.com) – State Representative Jeff Roorda-D Barnhart introduced a bill in the Missouri Legislature to keep the name of police officers who shoot someone in the line of duty a secret.

Roorda said he introduced the bill in 2009 out of safety concerns for police officers.

“Releasing a name could put someone in grave jeopardy,” Roorda said.

Roorda is also the business manager of the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association. The bill would have prevented the public from obtaining any records and documents involving police shootings if those documents contained the name of the officer who pulled the trigger.

Roorda said he was concerned about retaliation.

“That someone would retaliate, think they did something wrong and try to hurt them or their family,” Roorda said.

The bill never became law. The Police Officer’s Association eventually reached a compromise with the St. Louis Police Department. The department agreed to not release the name of the officer if it felt the officer could face a threat. After the compromise, Roorda decided not to pursue the legislation.

Roorda said he is concerned about the safety of Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Michael Brown, Jr, but Roorda is not commenting on the decision to release Wilson’s name.

“I’m not going to second guess Chief Jackson for releasing it, just like I’m not going to second guess him if he had not released it,” Roorda said.

Roorda said he has no plans to re-introduce the legislation. He said state law says the decision to release the name of an officer involved in a shooting must be done on a case by case basis.

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