Kavanagh Bill Aims To Give Law Enforcement Officers More Space To Do Their Jobs
By Daniel Stefanski |
Another legislative attempt to give Arizona law enforcement more space to do its job is meeting resistance from Democrats.
SB 1047, sponsored by Senator John Kavanagh, “expands the criminal classifications of third degree criminal trespass and refusing to aid a peace officer,” according to the purpose provided by the State Senate. The bill “classifies as third degree criminal trespass, knowingly entering or remaining at the site of a natural disaster, a traffic accident or another type of accident, a civil disturbance or an active law enforcement investigation, if there is active law enforcement intervention into criminal activity at the site and law enforcement communicates that public access is restricted.”
The bill also “classifies, as refusing to aid a peace officer, refusing to remain at a reasonable distance, as determined by the peace officer, from the location where the peace officer is actively intervening in a dangerous or potentially violent criminal occurrence with another person who is threatening or agitated or who appears to be emotionally unstable.”
In March, SB 1047 passed the Senate with a party-line 16-12 vote – with two members not voting (Gonzales and Diaz). It had previously cleared the Senate Committee on Military Affairs, Public Safety, and Border Security with a 4-3 vote, and the Rules Committee with a 4-3 tally.
After the Senate voted to approved SB 1047, the House wasted no time to start its consideration of this legislation. The House Committee on Military Affairs & Public Safety passed the bill – also along party lines – with an 8-7 vote.
Legislative Democrats have strongly opposed this bill throughout the session. The Arizona Senate Democrats Caucus tweeted, “Did you know? SB 1047 would reduce police accountability.”
The Arizona House Democrats also shared similar concerns with the bill this week, writing, “Sen. John Kavanagh’s unconstitutional attempt last year to prevent filming police activity never went into effect because no attorneys would defend it. So now he’s back in House Public Safety Committee with SB 1047 which would prevent observing police activity.”
Representatives from the Arizona Association of Counties and the Arizona Police Association supported SB 1047, while representatives from the State Conference NAACP, Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona opposed its passage.
The bill now awaits its fate in the Arizona House of Representatives.
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.