RALEIGH (WTVD) --Just days after the passage of House Bill 972, North Carolina is finding itself in national headlines again. The police footage bill, signed by Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday, permits law enforcement agencies from not releasing body and dash camera footage to the public without a court order.
Critics are saying the bill makes it appear the state has something to hide. Furthermore, given the recent events in Dallas, Minnesota, and Baton Rouge, the timing of the bill has sparked controversy.
However, Frank L. Perry, Secretary of Public Safety, said reports about the bill are inaccurate.
READ THE FULL TEXT OF HOUSE BILL 972 (.PDF)
"It's related to misconception or they're not reading it," Perry said. "But I think people are eager to characterize something that is in fact a product of deliberation ... And to characterize as shutting down public disclosure is false. It is a false characterization."
The bill passed with majority bipartisan support in the state legislator and had been deliberated for nearly six months.
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Perry says the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was involved in the deliberations and ultimately agreed to the passage of the bill. Publicly, however, the group has said the bill only makes matters worse.
"I find it hard to understand their private deliberations as opposed to their public comments. I don't think it's a contradiction. I know they have a job to do and a mission. And we do as well in law enforcement," Perry told ABC11. "The truth is post-Ferguson, I was on a panel with the ACLU and we were amazed at how much we agreed upon. About 98 percent we agreed. It was needed with respect to law enforcement in this country."
Critics have also questioning the bill's timing. Many have wondered if the bill was in response to Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, the Dallas police officers being shot down by a sniper, or the controversial Akiel Denkins case in Raleigh.
Perry disagrees that the bill was hastily passed.
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He told ABC11, "I think it is in response to the greater issues over time. It's not a knee-jerk reaction to the most recent events, but to the greater problem which is there."
Even though the bill has been worked and re-worked during the last six months, Perry is open to the idea of a revision should it create more harm than good.
"If it doesn't work or it's being seen as cumbersome, then I think it needs to be tweaked. I think you're going to see it as a very workable and it's going to be fair and forthright," he said.
Related story: Durham police: Body cameras come with pros, cons and a cost
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