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Durham officials, residents still have questions about police body cameras

Posted February 19

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— As city officials continue working on a policy for Durham police officers to use body cameras, a local resident has sued the city over the issue.

Rafiq Zaidi said he has been seeking information about body cameras from the Durham Police Department for almost two years. He's not satisfied with the response he's received from the department or anyone else in city government, so he filed a lawsuit Thursday.

"I saw it fit to go to the judicial branch and try to get some type of mandatory or injunctive relief," Zaidi said.

Some of his concerns are related to the cost of buying cameras and storing the footage they record, while others have to do with whether people filing a complaint against an officer and the Durham Civilian Police Review Board will have access to footage, how people's privacy would be protected and whether recordings become part of an officer's personnel file.

The Durham City Council on Monday postponed a vote on a contract for body cameras until March 7 to give officials more time to review a proposed policy and address people's concerns.

"A number of us had lingering concerns about the current draft of the policy," Councilman Charlie Reece said.

One of the biggest issues is who will decide when body camera video will be released to the public, Reece said.

"We need to flag incidents (and) video recordings that depict use of force by police officers (and) handle those separately," he said.

The policy has already been revised several times since its introduction in December, but Reece and fellow City Council members Jillian Johnson and Steve Schewel all say it needs more work. They plan to sit down with the police department next week to share their proposed revisions.

Schewel suggested a panel appointed by the council to review use-of-force videos.

"Then come back to City Council to recommend whether or not certain incidents need to be released to the public," Reece said.

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  • SusanandAaron Tambot-Blankenship Feb 19, 2016
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    I'm perfectly fine with officers having body-cams. If I call the police I'm fine with video in my private residence. Even if released to the public in FOI request. I would much rather have video of any evidence than not.
    You would have to think that video evidence for juries on what the situation is when police officers arrive would make the resulting court cases much easier.

    What are the arguments against cameras?