New law makes police cam footage off limits to public

Elaina Athans Image
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Body cam bill
Gov. Pat McCrory signed HB 972 into law, making police cam footage no longer public record.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Motivated by the controversial police officer-involved shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota, and the terror in Texas that unfolded after a Black Lives Matter march, Gov. Pat McCrory signed the Body Cam bill into law.

Related story: North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper says body camera law needs fixing

McCrory signed House Bill 972 on Monday afternoon.

The new law details who can view and obtain footage from body and dashboard camera. The footage is no longer public record.

If you are in the video, either your image or your audio, you can request the file. The request could be denied, however, and then you'll have to take the fight to Superior Court.

McCrory says technology can mislead and misinform.

"My goal is to protect those who protect us," he said.

The Governor believes the legislation is fair for everyone.

"It's better to have rules and guidelines with all this technology than no rules and guidelines whatsoever," said McCrory.

The ACLU of North Carolina calls the legislation "shameful."

"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," said Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel for the ACLU of North Carolina. "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."

The Governor's Office would not comment on the criticism.

The law goes into effect Oct. 1.

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Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison is backing McCrory's move. He says what law enforcement encounters in the field is not for everyone's eyes.

"A lot of groups think we should show everything from start to finish and we just can't do it," said Harrison. "They think we're trying to hide something and that's not what it is. But if we go into a house for a domestic (assault) and if the wife has been assaulted has been unclothed, we don't want that on YouTube. We don't want that out there."

McCrory took another step Monday to protect officers. He established the Blue Alert System, which is to help catch anyone who intends on attacking or harming a public safety officials.