RALEIGH (WTVD) --A bill making its way through the North Carolina General Assembly would prevent video recorded on police body cameras and dash cams from becoming public record.
On Wednesday, House Bill 972 went before the House Finance Committee for a vote over a provision that allows law enforcement agencies to charge for copies of the recordings.
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However, the discussion quickly turned to larger issues with the bill when two lawmakers brought amendments hoping to ease the restrictions.
As the bill stands right now, subjects of police recordings would need a court order in order to receive a copy of the footage.
"The way the bill is drafted, it is a recipe for the public losing confidence in what's happening in the police department," said Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham.
Rep. Kelly Alexander, D-Mecklenburg, tried to push an amendment that would allow those on film to receive a copy and be able to disseminate it without restriction. It was quickly voted down, with the bill's sponsors saying such a provision would tie the hands of Superior Court judges who would hold authority over how the recordings are shared.
The committee also denied an amendment put forth by Rep. Robert Reives, D-Chatham, that would require chiefs of police to submit video from officers' body cameras to their employer.
Bill sponsor Allen McNeill, R-Moore, explained the wording of the bill allows city managers to compel chiefs of police to hand over video.
While the bill's sponsors explained a city manager could compel chiefs of police to release the video in the case of public outcry over any particular officer-involved incident. Rep. Skip Stam, R,-Wake, said doing so would be a mistake.
Stam argued the bill is meant to create a buffer between professional law enforcement and elected officials, protecting the privacy of those captured on film, and in some cases, informants.
"Ultimately, they can get it," he said of city managers. "But thankfully, they may be stopped for a day or two while the political winds die down and people remind them 'Oh yea, somebody might get killed if you do this.'"
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