Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law a bill on Monday that will provide a guideline for who can view police body-worn and dashboard camera recordings and which recordings are public records.
The bill, which passed with bipartisan support in the House and Senate, says that recordings of police interactions on body cameras and dash cameras are not public records and may only be released to certain people related to the situation depicted in the video, and they may not duplicate the recording.
The law, in general, says that most recorded footage is not part of the public record and can only be shown to selected people including:
- A person whose image or voice is in the recording.
- A personal representative of an adult person whose image or voice is in the recording, if the adult person has consented to the disclosure.
- A personal representative of a minor or an adult person under guardianship whose image or voice is in the recording.
- A personal representative of a deceased person whose image or voice is in the recording.
- A personal representative of an adult person who is incapacitated and unable to provide consent to disclosure.
The law also establishes a structure for how law enforcement agencies will handle requests to view body camera and dash camera footage.
Under the law the “custodial law enforcement agency” may consider a set of factors when determining whether or not to disclose a recording.
Those factors include:
- If the person requesting disclosure of the recording is a person authorized to receive disclosure.
- If the recording contains information that is otherwise confidential or exempt from disclosure or release under state or federal law.
- If disclosure would reveal information regarding a person that is of a highly sensitive personal nature.
- If disclosure may harm the reputation or jeopardize the safety of a person.
- If confidentiality is necessary to protect either an active or inactive internal or criminal investigation or potential internal or criminal investigation.
If a request is denied, there is an appeal process in which the person requesting disclosure can go to Superior Court to request a review.
The law still allows for the footage to be used for training purposes and shared with other law enforcement agencies.
Current attorney general, and Democratic candidate for governor, Roy Cooper has come out against the law, saying it goes too far.
“It looks to me like it’s lot more difficult with this legislation to make a video public,” Cooper said according to an Associated Press article. “Obviously this is a complicated issue with a lot of details and a lot of potential for making sure that we ensure that justice is done at the end of the day. We need to see how this works first and how the courts are going to react to this, because it’s important to have these cameras.”
McCrory holds the measure up as a win for uniformity and transparency in law enforcement, saying the law balances access with safety for officers and victims.
“This legislation fulfills our commitment to protect our law enforcement and gain public trust by promoting uniformity, clarity and transparency,” McCrory said. “We are also taking action to curb violence among public safety officials and keep our citizens and law enforcement personnel safe through needle exchange programs.”