Naming officers involved in fatal police shootings would be banned under bill

A law change is being proposed to help protect police officers involved in fatal shootings.

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The Police Association wants automatic name suppression for cops. Source: 1 NEWS

The New Zealand Police Association wants automatic name suppression for officers involved in deadly shootings, to protect them and their families from retaliation. 

Now National's Police spokesman Chris Bishop has drafted a member's bill to try to bring this into law.

A 29-year-old man was killed in a police shooting in Auckland last year, and another man in Canterbury.

But those supporting frontline staff who fired the weapons say the deaths are a life sentence for them too.

"These are the most stressful incidents a member can be involved in, and anything that can be done to remove that stress should be looked at," Chris Cahill, New Zealand Police Association President, said. 

The Police Association wants automatic name suppression for officers involved in fatal shootings.

"The last thing you want to know is that when you Google your name that is what's going to come up," Mr Cahill said. 

Mr Bishop says his bill would introduce a legal ban on the naming of officers involved in shootings.

"What the bill provides is that the name is automatically suppressed in the Coroners Court, and while all the investigations are underway. And only after any criminal charges or after any investigations are over could the name become public," he said. 

He hopes making it illegal will also stop online identification.

1 NEWS has spoken to a defence lawyer involved in the majority of police shooting cases. She believes those who serve the public deserve anonymity, and their families, who can also suffer harassment, do too. 

It's a call the police association has been making for nearly 20 years, since the fatal shooting of Steven Wallace in Waitara and controversy around the naming of his shooter.

The Association says the rise of Google and social media is making matters worse. 

"The concern is is that those members will be singled out. There's the risk of retribution. But it's not just that. It's where the children of this member might go to school," Mr Cahill said.

The Government admits its a tricky matter. 

"There are two sets of interests - the interests of the police discharging their responsibilities under the law, and the expectation that our society celebrates open justice," Shane Jones, Duty Minister, said. 

Mr Jones says if the member's bill is pulled from the ballot it'll be need to be thoroughly debated by all those in Government.