Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

N.C.'S Bad Move Restricting Police Body Camera Videos Is Wrong

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

N.C.'S Bad Move Restricting Police Body Camera Videos Is Wrong

Article excerpt

The public wants and needs to trust the police. Body cameras and dashboard cameras can help vindicate good officers, and they can help ensure that officers who violate people's rights are punished.

And yet North Carolina's legislature has passed and its Republican governor, Pat McCrory, has signed a bill that makes the footage from these cameras hard to access. Under House Bill 972, the recordings are declared not to be public records subject to sunshine laws. Even when law-enforcement officials want to release videos, the bill restricts them.

The bill permits law-enforcement agencies to show videos to the people in them and their representatives. But if they decide not to - and the factors they may consider include harm to any person's reputation, including a policeman whose conduct is in question - that decision can be overturned by a court only for abuse of discretion. …

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