In July, North Carolina passed Bill 972 that states that the body cameras and dash cams used by law-enforcement will no longer be considered public record. This bill requires individuals captured in the recordings to write in as well as get a court order signed by a police chief in order to view them. However, a request can be denied.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed this bill after the footage of Keith Lamont Scott came to light. McCrory believes technology can mislead and misinform and that with this bill he hopes to “protect those who protect us.” This law went into effect Oct. 1.
North Carolina is not the only state pushing for police footage privacy. Laws in Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Illinois, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Carolina and District of Columbia exclude body camera footage from being public record. These are only a few of the states taking steps such as North Carolina has.
Supporters of such laws argue that cameras don’t provide concrete evidence and that in cases such as a domestic assault don’t allow privacy for the victims.
Those who disagree with this law, like Michael Picard and the NC ACLU, believe this is a clear violation of freedom of speech. Picard recently had a run-in with policemen in Connecticut that resulted in a lawsuit against the department for violating his rights.
While protesting near a DUI checkpoint, Picard was recording some events on his phone and officers forcefully confiscated his phone. None of the officers had known the phone was still recording when they discussed the infractions that would be placed on Picard.
The video catches them saying things like “You want me to punch it in either way?” and “[We] gotta cover our ass.” The full video can be found on YouTube.
While there are many instances proving law-enforcement to be less than transparent, not every accusation has been proven correct. A post made on Facebook has been floating around the internet noting police to be obstructing their dash cams by keeping their car hoods raised. This allegation is false.
When contacted about the post, Danville Police Department stated that the raised hoods were to stop various engine parts from melting in the high temperatures. Danville Police have been having continuous over-heating problems with their vehicles but have notified Chevrolet about the problem. However, there’s nothing stating that policemen can’t obstruct their dash cams with their car hoods.
All of this news means that the right to publicly view policemen in action has a chance of being taken away. North Carolina started this change in law and many states are jumping on the bandwagon. Without those body and dash cams, policemen using unnecessary force have a chance of walking free and victims from having justice.