Local News

Raleigh City Council OK's body cameras for police as debate over access continues

Posted January 2, 2018 5:01 p.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 9:56 a.m. EDT

— The Raleigh City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to purchase body cameras for police officers, but debate over how they will be used continues.

The city will get 600 body cameras and 450 in-car cameras and the infrastructure to operate them at a cost of around $4.4 million in local funds and federal grants over the next three years.

Policies on how those cameras will be used on the street, however, has been a point of contention.

The Raleigh Police Department spent months conducting several meetings for public input on the policy which, among other things, allows officers to view video of an incident before writing their report.

Critics say the public is not afforded the same luxury as officers. There are also concerns about potential barriers to public access to view the recorded videos.

“They included several loopholes there that are concerning to me, that come from specifically from the state law, that are discretionary. So, a law enforcement agency could use those factors or they don’t have to,” said Susanna Birdsong with the ACLU of North Carolina.

Members of the public who are eligible to view recorded video must show up in person to see it and Birdsong said there are certain conditions where that access can be denied. 

Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said the policy is a living document that can be altered as necessary.

“We are guided by statute also, but I did add an assessment in there that there will be a presumption toward disclosure,” she said. "Making sure, where there is a need, that we can revaluate the policy as we do with all our policies to make sure we put our best foot forward."

The first cameras could hit the streets as early as March.