Should all police officers involved in fatal shootings be identified?

It has been the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s policy for decades.

Within 48 hours of a fatal incident involving police, the department releases the name, age, tenure and division of all officers involved in the use of deadly force. A press conference follows after the 72-hour mark, where any relevant footage from body cameras is released.

“It’s all regimented. It’s all given on the same timeline to everybody,” Las Vegas public information officer Larry Hadfield told the Star.

There is “no pushback” from front-line officers because they don’t know any other option, he said.

“We’ve always named the officers involved in shootings because the use of deadly force is the most scrutinized thing that a police officer does in the line of duty.”

The view is far from widely shared among police services. Even in the United States — often perceived north of the border as vastly more transparent — name-release practices differ from state to state and are being debated and reformed following high-profile police shootings.

In Canada, it is rare for police involved in fatal incidents to be officially identified unless a criminal charge is laid, in large part because governments and civilian watchdogs, including Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), cite privacy legislation.

Ontario’s privacy commissioner, however, has stated explicitly that officers’ names may be disclosed in “circumstances of significant public interest,” despite government claims they are protected under freedom of information and privacy legislation.