RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill into law Monday that sets guidelines for video gathered by North Carolina law enforcement.
The law requires law enforcement to release the video when a person in the video requests a copy. But there are exceptions – if the footage is of a sensitive nature, the footage could jeopardize a person’s safety or if the footage is from an active investigation.
The video would not be public record but denied requests could be taken to court.
“We are initiating necessary balance to gain public trust while also respecting right, the rights of our public safety of officers,” McCrory said.
The governor went on to say it is better to have rules and guidelines than none at all.
Before signing the bill, McCrory discussed the recent shootings of blacks by police officers and the ambush in Dallas.
Representatives from several law enforcement agencies, including Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison, were on hand for the bill signing.
Those opposed to the law believe it sets too many restrictions on releasing the footage.
“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.
Harrison, who has been looking into body cameras for three years, said it’s not the issue of transparency holding him back but rather money.
“We just can’t do it just because, one, investigative purposes. Two, what may happen in a home or on the street or in a hospital, or in a rest home. People don’t think of all the things that we do,” Harrison said.
Harrison is seeking federal funding for the cameras.