New body camera law irks public

New body camera law irks public
October 13
06:45 2016

Under H.B. 972, only law enforcement and other government agencies can see footage



The N.C. General Assembly has passed a contentious law, House Bill 972, that prohibits who can see police body camera and dashboard footage.

Less than two weeks after Keith Scott was gunned down by a police officer in Charlotte, H.B. 972, couldn’t have come at a worse time. Wake Forest University criminal studies director Kami Chavis said one of the biggest challenges with the law is the lack of transparency.

“I think there is already a lack of transparency when it comes to community policing, and this law adds to that distrust.” Chavis said.

Signed by incumbent Gov. Pat McCory in June, under H.B. 972, videos obtained on police cameras will only be made available to the public if a judge finds that it needs to be public information.

Only law enforcement agencies and other government agencies are allowed to see footage from body cameras and dashboard cameras. People who are seen or heard in the video footage can be shown the video, but they are not allowed to share or record the video.

Law enforcement agencies can deny all requests to view to footage for a number of reasons, including, to protect personal information, and to protect a current or closed investigation. They can also withhold viewing if they decide it may jeopardize the safety of an individual.

During a recent forum held on the Wake Forest campus to discuss police brutality just days before the law went into effect, Chavis, who also serves as WFU’s associate dean of research and public engagement, said she understands not releasing footage immediately but, holding footage INDEFINETLY adds another brick to the wall of distrust between police and the black communities across the country.

She said, “There are a lot of reasons why we might want to maintain the integrity of an investigation, but it’s not appropriate to have the footage remain unreleased.”

N.C. NAACP President Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II has called for a repeal of H.B. 972. The NAACP also demanded that federal standards be set for when police officers should be justified in using deadly force. Barber also called for “more civilian review boards, and a demilitarization of police departments statewide.

Barber demanded, “the end of radicalized policing and police brutality.”

U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and the N.C. representative for District 1, and U.S. Rep.  Alman Adams, who represents District 12, have also spoken out against the new law.

Just as quietly as summer turned to fall, on Saturday, Oct. 1, H.B. 972 official went into effect. During an interview with WFAE 90.7 in Fayetteville, State Rep. Allen McNeil from Asheboro said the law puts recorded footage exactly where it should be.

“This law does not put the custodian of the record [such as the police chief] in the unfortunate position of have to decide what is evidence and what is not evidence, what should be released and what should not be,” McNeil said.

“It puts it where it should be. It puts it with the court.”

H.B. 972 can be read in its entirety on the NC General Assembly website at

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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