By Mike Cavender, RTDNA Executive Director
Here we go again!
Another state—this time North Carolina—has moved to keep police body cam video out of the hands of the public. This week, the state’s Republican governor, Pat McCrory signed a bill which blocks public access to the video without a court order.
Even the state’s attorney general (who is also a candidate for Governor) says the bill “is too restrictive and goes too far” and should be revised by the North Carolina legislature. The governor says the new law protects the police because technology can “mislead and misinform.” He says the bill is fair to everyone—police and the public.
Really, Governor? Especially in today’s highly-charged environment, when transparency can never be too great, RTDNA agrees with many others who believe the new law is just flat-out wrong! The ACLU labeled the bill “shameful.”
When the calls increased last year for more police agencies to wear body cams, one of the primary purposes was to provide greater accountability and video evidence—not only of the actions of officers, but also those of civilians involved in incidents. Over the past few months, such video has served to both indict and exonerate police officers, just as it has for some civilians. Video doesn’t play favorites.
No one should throw a blanket over this important technology and deny the public access to what should be a public record—not unlike an incident report, 9-1-1 call or complaint form.
RTDNA hopes that, when the North Carolina legislature convenes again, it will consider significant changes to this wrong-headed law and allow a little sunshine to poke through the state’s body cam video recordings.