Proposed bill would require NC law enforcement to wear body cameras

Posted December 10, 2014

— Members of the Legislative Black Caucus said Wednesday that they expect a bill to be filed when the General Assembly reconvenes in January that would require some, if not all, law enforcement officers in North Carolina to wear body cameras on duty.

The caucus held a forum with law enforcement leaders from across the state, seeking suggestions on what policymakers can do to ensure police-involved killings such as those of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York don't happen in North Carolina.

Sen. Earline Parmon, D-Forsyth, said lawmakers want to start a dialogue with law enforcement about how to avoid such shootings – and the mass protests and violence that followed each.

"We want to do what we can do to help in both areas, to help law enforcement and to prevent the kinds of unseemly things that's happening across this nation with law enforcement," Parmon said.

She said law enforcement officials have asked for body cameras, but many details would need to be worked out first, such as whether the video and audio recorded by the cameras would be subject to North Carolina's public records law and, if so, how quickly the recordings would be released to the media and members of the public.

Eddie Caldwell, executive vice president and general counsel of the North Carolina Sheriffs' Association, said making body camera recordings public could discourage people from calling for help or give away critical details of crime scenes that investigators often don't reveal.

"When you call 911 and ask for a law enforcement officer to come to your house to assist with a problem you're having, and they have a body camera on, then everything that transpires is going to be recorded," Caldwell said. "(A recording) can't be released instantaneously because the law enforcement agency's going to use that information to help figure out who's giving false information and who actually was at the scene and knows what was happening."

The Legislative Black Caucus also plans to file anti-profiling legislation next year, said Rep. Rodney Moore, D-Mecklenburg.


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  • Victor Cruz-Saez Dec 14, 2014
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    Keith, are you aware that agencies with dash cams already have policies that cover these points of yours? Things have progressed from the VHS cam when I was a cop in the 80's. They now have DVD units that capture everything in the dash cam. The officers carry a wireless mike that is connected to the dash cam. The data is saved to a DVD that cannot be erased. The agencies have policies in place as to how to store, copy and disseminate the information that is recorded from the dash cams.

    New technology, same issues.

  • nerdlywehunt Dec 13, 2014

    Once people get an accurate and unbiased account of these confrontations then maybe then we can address the real issue of the massive amounts of crimes and who commits them. THEN we can have a truly meaningful dialog about how to solve the problems!

  • Matt Wood Dec 12, 2014
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    It's good to get a cop's POV! Perhaps protective glasses with a camera built in would be better? I mean, protective glasses are just a good call when discharging a firearm, anyway, right?

  • Atheistinafoxhole Dec 12, 2014

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    Actually, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals already invalidated the Illinois statute. It was appealed to the SCOTUS and they declined to review the decision, leaving in place the ruling of the 7th Circuit. The 7th Circuit found that there is a 1st Amendment right to record the police and the Illinois Supreme Court found previously that the police have no reasonable expectation of privacy while on the job.

    Unfortunately, people are still threatened with arrest and actually arrested for this - charges are always dismissed, but the intimidation factor is still present.

  • Pensive01 Dec 12, 2014

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    You could make the same argument against the use of dashboard cameras, mounted in police cars. I would just point out that while the video from dashboard cameras has indeed been used in cases where law enforcement has acted wrongly, footage from dashboard cameras has also been used to exonerate officers from falsely made claims that were made against them. Perhaps you ought to have a look at the results of a yearlong study, found here at http://www.policefoundation.org/content/body-worn-cameras-police-use-force, before you go all ballistic on why "you" think body cameras are a bad idea.

  • COPs eye Dec 12, 2014

    As an active duty street cop I agree that we should have cameras. The body worn camera on the chest is not giving you the true point of visual view we see on any call. When you turn just your head the camera is still pointed straight with the body and doesn't capture what the officer sees. If a LEO is attacked from the side and looks first then reacts 3/4 second later by turning and firing his weapon then the camera missed the 3/4 second that caused him to fire his weapon and leaves room for what is happ now all over. If it is on video it should be used as evidence at trial and to penalize or exonerate police PERIOD. However it should not run for full shift....do really want to see an officer go to the bathroom on video??? It should be turned on before interaction with the public from the start of receiving a call for service and turned off afterward as to not record things that are not personal.

  • emaleth Dec 11, 2014

    WHO is going to pay for these??

  • bottleworks Dec 11, 2014

    This needs to pass.

  • Justin Case Dec 11, 2014
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    Will never pass, but.... some political nut always has to go one step too far.

  • Alex Branoff Dec 11, 2014
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    The moment that body camera footage is used to exonerate a Police Officer of wrong doing or aid in the conviction of a criminal, these protesters will have issue with it as well. For most people this is a smart move. But evidence hasn't stopped the people from protesting the result of the Mike Brown assualt on a police officer so i doubt it will sway their tiny minds in the future.