A new law restricting the release of police dashboard and body camera footage to the public passed on Oct. 1, in North Carolina. House Bill 972 was proposed in June and passed easily; Governor Pat McCrory cited the footage liable to “mislead and misinform”.
Any future footage will be considered confidential and will limit the number of authorized viewers to those appearing in it and their family. No copies are allowed to be made without express permission. Anyone else, including journalists, will have to obtain a court order to obtain viewing rights. All requests must go to a state superior court judge given that the footage could put someone in danger, affect the criminal investigation, or negatively affect an officer's reputation. Several groups were against the bill’s passing, including the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, who expressed that the law would make it more difficult to maintain trust between the public and the law enforcement.
In the law’s defense, Governor McCrory stated, “One viewpoint of a video doesn't often always tell the whole story," McCrory said, "The angles can make a difference, and [you're] not hearing [the sound] often in the video, so that [adds to] the complexity. The video is one piece of evidence. We have to be careful."
This law is not the first of its kind either. Nearly twenty states have similar ordinances restricting public access to such footage, and there are even more states in the proposal process. For further details on the ins-and-outs of North Carolina’s newest legislation, click here.