By Joey Graham
Indiana News Service
INDIANAPOLIS — A proposal to create a perimeter around working police investigations has made it through the first half of the 2023 Indiana legislative session.
Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Evansville, said House Bill 1186 allows for a buffer zone up to 25 feet between officers and bystanders.
Amelia McClure, executive director of the Hoosier State Press Association, has concerns about how the bill could affect journalists.
“Democracy functions when citizens can properly monitor their public officials’ actions,” McClure asserted. “Oftentimes, we rely on journalists to report on those actions, because we can’t be everywhere at once. So, when there is a bill that could hinder the public’s access to public officials, we are almost always concerned about that.”
The bill would make “encroaching on an investigation” a Class C misdemeanor. It has passed out of the Indiana House and is in the Senate chamber, where opponents hope to offer amendments.
McClure said a recent report suggests it takes more than 17 feet to disarm someone.
“I think that, in conjunction with the proliferation of cellphone videos and protests, and movements surrounding George Floyd, have kind of all come together to influence this legislation,” McClure noted.
McClure pointed out journalists’ ability to observe and report also adds a measure of credibility for law enforcement officers on the job.
This story is based on original reporting from Xain Ballenger with The Statehouse File.