North Carolina AG says body camera law needs fixing

Jul 13, 2016, 02:51
North Carolina AG says body camera law needs fixing

There were growing calls for McCrory to veto the legislation because it makes it hard for the public - including people involved in a recorded police action - to see it.

Individual police departments are still able to release body camera footage at their own discretion under the new law.

Cooper said the legislature may need to make improvements. Despite widespread outcry, including protests and submission of a petition signed by more than 3,000 people, House Bill 972 received little opposition in the Senate, where it passed by a vote of 48 to 2 before the governor gave final approval.

Attorney General Cooper said Tuesday that recordings from body cameras and dashboard cameras should instead be treated as public record, with some exemptions for crime victims or investigations.

McCrory signed the bill while surrounded by law enforcement officers from several departments and against the backdrop of fatal police shootings last week of black men by police officers in Minnesota and Louisiana, along with the shooting deaths of five police officers by a black gunman in Dallas who was targeting white cops. Some lawmakers wanted to loosen restrictions on access. The police chief or sheriff would decide whether to grant access.

A state judge can allow other parties to view the video, as long as the footage is not considered highly personal or does not present a risk to public safety, the new law states. A law enforcement agency could withhold access for reasons such as a continued investigation or safety concerns.

Supporters of the law say it is better to but some guidelines on the release of the footage, so that it is not released to the public too quickly and misinterpreted. Sterling's death may have also been captured on police body cameras, which reportedly became dislodged during the scuffle.

I hate to point out the obvious, but there's another group of people who, especially after last week, might suffer embarrassment or shame or perhaps even indictment over the contents of police video.

Graham Wilson, a spokesperson from the governor's office, told ABC News that Gov. McCrory's press conference explained the potential benefits of the bill and declined to comment further.

He continued, "Technology like dashboard and body cameras can be very helpful, but when used by itself, technology can also mislead and misinform, which also causes other issues and problems within our community".

If a request is denied, the requester can seek permission from a judge, who considers whether there is a "compelling public interest" in releasing it, the AP reports.

"In North Carolina we're going to walk that fine line and do the right thing", McCrory said. Public money can not be used to buy needles or syringes.

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