Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Restrictions on Police Body Cam Footage : What it Means to You

The Governor of, North Carolina, recently signed a bill restricting access to Police body cameras and dash cam footage.  North Carolina isn't the only state that has done so.

With this bill in place, Police dashcam and body cam footage is no longer public record.  Which means this type of footage is now CONFIDENTIAL information, therefore the public will not be entitled to view it.  Just like the information you share with your doctor and/or lawyer is secret information between only you and them, the same will be true for police footage.

Under North Carolina's new law, only individuals that can be seen or heard in the police footage, or their representatives, can request to view it.  There is no guarantee that their request will be granted.  Before the request is granted these factors will be taken into consideration:

• If the disclosure would reveal information regarding a person of a "highly sensitive personal nature";
• If the disclosure "may harm the reputation or jeopardize the safety of a person";
• If disclosure would create "a serious threat to the fair, impartial, and orderly administration of justice"; and
• If withholding release is necessary to protect an active or inactive investigation, criminal or internal.

Governor, Pat McCrory, stated, "if you immediately release a video, sometimes it distorts the entire picture, which is extremely unfair to our law enforcement officials.”  He signed the bill stating that it would promote "uniformity, clarity, and transparency".

What this means for you is, if there is an officer involved shooting or incident in North Carolina, or any other state that has enacted such laws, you may not want to hold your breath waiting to see the police footage on social media.

What this means for you is, if you have the unfortunate opportunity to be involved in an officer involved incident, in North Carolina, do not immediately rely on the police footage to be released to you or your representative.  In the event you are denied release of the footage, based on the above considerations, be prepared to go before the Superior Court with your request.

Do you think the above considerations lean in favor of one involved party over the other?  Is favor fair?

Do you think these type of laws promote police transparency, why or why not?

Civilians still have the power to use their personal cell phones for recording purposes.  Do you think regulation of personal cell phone footage will be next?

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