The Virginia Senate voted 25-15 on Monday to keep the names of all police officers and deputy sheriffs a secret.
SB552 by Sen. John Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake, applies to any local or state officer, including officers from agencies such as the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the Virginia Marine Police.
Cosgrove said during an earlier subcommittee hearing that he filed the bill in response to a November court ruling allowing The Virginian-Pilot access to names, agencies and employment dates for current Virginia police officers. The newspaper is examining how often officers who got in trouble were able to find other jobs in law enforcement.
Cosgrove said Monday that his bill, which exempts law enforcement officers from Freedom of Information Act requirements, should be passed to protect officers and their families from being targeted for violence.
“Unfortunately, our culture has changed,” he said. “Many times, police officers are considered fair game.”
Cosgrove referenced a tabloid newspaper in San Antonio this year toying with the idea of publishing the names and addresses of all city police officers. The editor in chief backed off the idea but said the paper was considering doing it to protect the community following a fatal shooting by an officer.
Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, opposed the bill. He 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.
The bill now goes to the House.
This story originally appeared on PilotOnline.com