State Senate Panel Votes to Shut Out Federal Investigators

Feb 4, 2014

A Senate panel voted Monday to block state and local police from using certain information they might get from federal agents despite claims it could lead to people dying in terrorist attacks. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City
Credit Capitol Media Services file photo by Howard Fischer

The legislation approved by the Senate Committee on Government and Environment would bar public employees and departments from helping federal agencies collect things like phone and e-mail records from Arizonans unless the feds first got a search warrant. But, it also would make it illegal for police to use information a federal agency obtained without a search warrant. That alarmed Lyle Mann, director of the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board.

“An officer could be given information — important information — a shooting, a terrorist attack, whatever it is you want to talk about, but they cannot confirm that the information came from a warrant-covered source. But, if they do nothing with the information, something bad is going to happen,” Mann said.

Sen. Kelli Ward said she understand the concern. But the senator said she does not want to start what she called a slippery slope of loss of individual rights.

“We can’t sacrifice our liberty in the name of security. That is one of the main things I’m trying to balance. I don’t think we should be giving up liberties, especially liberties that are guaranteed to us in our Constitution under our Fourth Amendment rights in the interest of security, even if it is terrorism or child pornography,” Ward said.

Ward said she’s willing to consider changes when the bill gets to the full Senate.