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Ky. Lawmaker Drops 'Stop-And-Identify' Proposal, Citing Hostile Response

Josh James

A controversial bill granting Kentucky law enforcement the ability to temporarily detain anyone who refuses to identify him or herself has been withdrawn by the sponsor, who says he was "personally threatened" after posting the bill. 

Under Senate Bill 89, anyone stopped by police on “reasonable suspicion” of criminal involvement could be asked to produce identification and explain what he or she is doing. Republican Sen. Stephen Meredith, the bill’s sponsor, withdrew the measure Tuesday – lamenting a public response he deemed “trial by social media."

"No testimony, no discussion, no searching for the truth," the legislator said. "Just inflammatory rhetoric and indictment."

The Leichfield senator said the bill, which attracted fire from civil rights advocates, was filed to give police another tool to stop crimes like mass shootings. The lawmaker added that he was "trying to fix a problem and naively thinking if we talked about it maybe we could come up with a solution, but no... I'm a Nazi, a communist, unamerican, hateful. That's not me at all." 

Language in the bill would have enabled police to ask for a person’s name, address, age, and driver’s license. Those who failed to comply could be detained for up to two hours.

“The ‘crime’ in this case is basically that you’re here and we don’t think, from looking at you, that you should be here,” Kentucky Associaton of Criminal Defense Lawyers lobbyist Rebecca DiLoreto told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “The potential for abuse in that seems obvious.”

Critics call measures like SB69, commonly referred to as “stop-and-identify” laws, unconstitutional ⁠—pointing to Fourth Amendment restrictions on warrantless searches and seizures.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.