Local News

Charlotte shooting puts pressure on local departments to add body cams

Posted September 26, 2016 6:48 p.m. EDT

— The fatal shooting of a black man by a police officer in Charlotte is only the latest shooting putting pressure on local police departments to add body cameras.

On Monday, the Department of Justice announced a $20 million grant to enhance body-camera programs. Raleigh will receive $600,000 and Greensboro will receive $300,000.

In Chapel Hill, police officers are beginning to wear body cameras as the department rolls out their pilot program. Currently, 18 officers are trained to operate the department's 14 cameras.

"It's very nice to be able to go back and see if it was a problem of perception or whether it was something else we need to address," said Lt. Josh Mecimore.

For the public, the cameras are about transparency as national tensions are forcing the issue into the limelight.

Raleigh police will soon begin testing cameras, the goal is to have 100 officers wearing cameras by the end of the year, and eventually 600 officers will use the technology.

In Durham, the process is slower.

"We are trying to deal with the concept of where we stand," said Eddie Davis, with the Durham City Council.

Davis said leaders and law enforcement officers wrestled mightily with the issue of privacy. Once they ironed out a policy, the general assembly passed a law trumping theirs and restricting who can see the video. It would be up to a judge to make the video public.

"So, the question now is will the financial investment that will need to go into that be worth the so called transparency that we were expecting," Davis said.

Still, he believes body camera will be given the green light in Durham, as they have in Hillsborough and Wak Forest.

"I certainly think body cameras are still good. I think being able to capture encounters with the public has to be good and if we have to go through the bureaucracy of having to get a court order it may be worth it." Davis said.