Members of the public will no longer be allowed to access video obtained by law enforcement officers in North Carolina, under a new bill recently passed into law.
The state’s governor signed House Bill 972 on Monday, which strikes police body and dashcam footage from the public record.
Citizens who appear in police footage, whether on camera or audibly, can request the file, but judicial officials may refuse, at which point the request would be reviewed by a superior court.
Gov. Pat McCrory said the bill allows for greater transparency, and protects law enforcement from being demonized before all the facts are out.
“We are initiating a necessary balance to gain public trust, while also respecting the rights of our public safety of officers,” Gov. McRory said. “Technology can mislead and misinform, which causes other issues and problems within our community.”
“My goal is to protect those who protect us,” the governor continued.
“It’s better to have rules and guidelines with all this technology than no rules and guidelines whatsoever.”
The bill’s passage follows outrage last week induced by footage showing the police deaths of two Black men. At a protest over the videos in Dallas, Texas, a man inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement shot 12 officers leaving five dead.
The North Carolina chapter of the ACLU has expressed their opposition to the law, which they called “shameful,” saying it will inhibit accountability.
“Body cameras should be a tool to make law enforcement more transparent and accountable to the communities they serve, but this shameful law will make it nearly impossible to achieve those goals,” North Carolina ACLU policy counsel Susanna Birdsong said. “People who are filmed by police body cameras should not have to spend time and money to go to court in order to see that footage. These barriers are significant and we expect them to drastically reduce any potential this technology had to make law enforcement more accountable to community members.”
A poll taken by ABC affiliate WTVD showed a large majority of its viewers were not on board with the law, which goes into effect Oct. 1.
New law makes police cam footage off limits to public. Should it be public record? https://t.co/jJ9t1KymvK
— ABC11 EyewitnessNews (@ABC11_WTVD) July 11, 2016