House Bill 972

North Carolina Law Prohibits Surveillance Videos to Be Exposed to the Public

Earlier this week in Raleigh, North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory signed the Body Cam Bill into law. This bill makes police camera footage “off-limits” to the public eye. Body cameras or dash camera footage has certain limitations in the state of North Carolina when it comes to who can view and access the tapes. If a person is involved in the video or captured in the recording can request to view, but only in writing, if possible; there must be a petition handed over to a judge as a court order.  Just after signing, McCrory explained in a news conference that this new law will “promote uniformity, clarity, and transparency” because he believes that technology can “mislead and misinform”.

In a brief statement with News channel 11, McCrory commented:

“My goal is to protect those who protect us. It’s better to have rules and guidelines with all this technology than no rules and guidelines whatsoever.”

Some were for the law, such as Representative Pat Hurley, who serves as the state House’s Appropriations, Justice and Safety Committee co-chair. She believes that it is beneficial for the public community to be turned away from police recordings as she told CNN:

“It had nothing to do with the recent shootings. We felt because of the cost of implementing the program as well as the cost of storing the tapes, that departments should have some guidance and the local departments should fund them, not the state.” 

Others were not so happy, including the organization ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) of North Carolina, in which they called the legislation “shameful.” Policy Counsel for the ACLU of North Carolina, Susanna Birdsong, discussed her frustration in an article on their website;

“Body cameras should be a tool to make law enforcement more transparent and accountable to the communities they serve, but this shameful law will make it nearly impossible to achieve those goals. People who are filmed by police body cameras should not have to spend time and money to go to court in order to see that footage. These barriers are significant and we expect them to drastically reduce any potential this technology had to make law enforcement more accountable to community members.”

With recent police killings that have emerged within the past week, the decision of Governor McCrory signing the Body Cam Bill seems to appear biased based on the timing of the bill. On the night of July 5th, Alton Sterling was murdered by police officers, and the video of his death was released to the public early the next morning. Five days later, Governor McCrory signed a bill into office to cut the releasing of police footage for the world to see. Was it wrong timing or something that should have not been signed at all?

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