Arizona Capitol

Ducey Vetoes "Secret Police Bill"

Late Monday afternoon, Governor Doug Ducey vetoed state Senate Bill 1445, which would have prevented Arizona police departments from revealing the names of officers involved in violent incidents for 60 days.

After successfully passing through the state Legislature last week, the bill was transferred to the Governor's Office, and action was required by the end of yesterday.

See also: "Secret Police Bill" Passes in AZ Senate Amidst Protest

In a letter explaining his veto, Ducey wrote, "I am more than sympathetic to the aim of Senate Bill 1445, and I respect the supporters of this legislation for seeking to address these issues. I know the goal of this legislation is to protect officers and their families, and it's a goal I share."

"I've heard from many voices on this bill--from all sides--and have weighed all the arguments carefully and with great consideration," his letter continues. "Unfortunately, I don't believe this bill in its current form best achieves the objectives we share, and I worry it could result in unforeseen problems."

"I keep having to wipe away tears, Jeremy Helfgot of the Phoenix Human Relations Commission writes to New Times. "We have so few victories to celebrate in this state, and I honestly and completely believe that ending this bill will save lives, both of officers and civilians." Helfgot has been an outspoken advocate against this bill from the beginning.

In the last few days, the Governor's Office met with individuals and groups who support the bill--such as the Arizona Police Association--as well as those who urged him to reject the measure. Included in the second group were many police chiefs who explained that they already have the power to withhold an officer's name for the sake of public safety, and that this bill would take away their discretion in the matter. (Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton also wrote a letter urging Ducey to veto the bill.)

Early Monday morning, a group of 8 citizens--including representatives from the ACLU, the NAACP, and the Arizona chapter of Black Lives Matter--sat down with Ducey's chief of staff and deputy chief of staff to explain their concerns about the bill.

"We let our views be known that this is a bad piece of legislation. It's bad for Arizona, and bad for trying to bridge the 'trust gap' between police and community," Reverend Reginald D. Walton, who was part of the meeting, told New Times. He and other opponents explain that SB 1445 would erode trust in the police force by limiting transparency and sending a message that the department has something to hide.

But those pushing for the bill, like it's sponsor Senator Steve Smith, say it "protects officers and their families from being convicted in the court of pubic opinion," while providing the public with a "cooling-off period."

In explaining his veto, Ducey noted that some of the bill's provisions were vague and would "likely impose practical challenges." But he ended on a conciliatory note: "The treatment and safety of our officers and their families is on the top of my mind. My office is more than willing to discuss ways that we can address this moving forward. I look forward to working together and to finding ways to protect our heroes who wear the badge."

Opponents of the bill have scheduled a press conference for 11 this morning outside of the Executive Tower at the capital to talk about the veto and to discuss how Arizona can move forward in bridging gaps between police and the community.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story reported that the Governor was speaking at the press conference. He is not.


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Miriam is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Miriam Wasser