NC legislature gives approval to bill which would protect police body camera footage
June 30, 2016 at 9:54 am
North Carolina’s state legislature has made news yet again, and not in a good way. This time around, the state legislature has given approval to a measure that would affect police accountability and transparency. House Bill 972 will prohibit full disclosure of policy body cameras and dashboard camera footage.
Under this bill anyone who is captured on video or audio may request to see it but would not be allowed to have a copy. Copies of police videos will not be made available to the public unless a judge orders it. The bill makes it plain and clear that police body camera and dashboard camera footage is not a public or personnel record. The sponsor of the bill, Republican Representative John Faircloth, believes that the bill will serve as a balancing test between police accountability and the privacy of private citizens.
Several open government and transparency groups have spoken out about the issue citing that the bill seems to be a secrecy bill. Director of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition, Jonathan Jones, sees the bill another hurdle for citizens to have to jump through to access records. “This bill provides that the only right a citizen has to get access to that video is by filing a lawsuit, and that’s prohibitively expensive. We know from the public records law, which also has a similar provision, that citizens are unable to file those lawsuits,” he told WRAL.
Police accountability and transparency is a national problem that has resulted in the loss of black lives without actionable consequences. If more states create laws such as this one in California, Trump won’t be our only problem come November.