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Should names of officers be released following police-involved shooting deaths?

PATERSON, N.J. -- It’s been nearly three months since police shot and killed a father of three in Paterson, N.J.

Investigators say Ismael Miranda, 36, opened fire at a fleeing minivan. Plainclothes cops heard the vehicle take off, approached Miranda and shot him.

A family member tells PIX11 that authorities still haven't told them the names of the officers involved.

The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office was assigned the investigation into Miranda’s death. A spokeswoman reiterated to PIX11 today that it is their policy to not release the names of police officers involved in a shooting like this one.

But New Jersey lawmakers are talking about changing that.

A bill that’s currently moving through the State Legislature would mandate the release of officers names within 48 hours after they were involved in a fatal shooting or a death in custody.

“I feel like people should know,” said Jahnaya Mickens, whose father is a police officer in Paterson. “I mean just like a suspect out in the street, they release their names. Police are human too, they shouldn’t be exempt from it.”

“If somebody shot your child, wouldn’t you want to know who did it?” commented Dolores McDowell of Paterson.

The bill (S-2469) does provide authorities with the option not to release officers’ names, if they felt that the officers or their immediate families would be put at grave risk. A written explanation for the decision would have to be provided to the public.

The thought of this threat to police forced Dolores McDowell to change her mind.

“You know, the more I think about it, I don’t think they should. But they should address the issue,” she added.

It’s an issue dozens are hotly debating online, as well as on the street.

“I honestly think the officers have it rough enough, trying to keep the streets safe,” commented another passerby, Joe Lonati. "I don’t think it would be a good thing to put their name in the paper, because there are crazy people out in the world.”

The proposal to identify officers is apart of a larger bill that would automatically turn police-involved death investigations over to the State Attorney General, rather than allowing local authorities to handle them.

This bill did pass through the State Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee with a 7-5 vote. It still needs to be voted on by the full New Jersey State Senate and Assembly.