As of this week, it just became a lot harder to access police and body-cam footage in the state of North Carolina.
According to CNN, on Oct. 1, Governor Pat McCrory signed legislation that will block the public from easily obtaining dash-cam or body-cam footage.
While agencies can still approve requests for the footage, it is now easier for them to outright deny the request.
The footage can be released if so ordered by a court.
Of the law, McCrory said it was about, “respecting the public, respecting the family, and also respecting the constitutional rights of the officer.”
The first issue of respecting the public is a nonstarter.
In any situation, the public wants answers, the truth and justice.
Citing the family of the potential victim is more plausible as some may not want their loved one displayed on the six o’clock news.
On the other hand, some families would want the video released to show the true events surrounding an incident.
The most ludicrous suggestion is that the law is concerned with protecting the constitutional rights of the officers. When acting as officers of the law, the police should expect more public scrutiny, not less.
Prior to the law’s passage, North Carolina had no uniform rules regarding police tapes.
Most jurisdictions treated them as part of an officer’s personnel file and made them available under public records requests.
The law would still allow those who were involved in the case (family and officers) to view the footage, but would not provide them or the public with a copy of the film.
Body-cam and dash-cam footage provide evidence to the public of what took place, especially when community and officer reports are in conflict.
Releasing this type of footage provides transparency especially in cases of possible police misconduct.
Even though the law was passed before the Charlotte protests began, one cannot help to draw connections to those events.
As protesters began their marches they chanted “no tapes, no peace,” in reference to the videos in the Scott case.
Later that evening, police agreed to the requests and released the footage. Releases like these go a long way to meeting public demand for transparency.