HB 972 Hides Police Body-Camera Footage From the Public
A new bill, House Bill 972, was passed in a House committee last week that prevents police body cameras from public disclosure. If a citizen captured in police video wanted to see this footage they would have to go through the costly process of filing a lawsuit. HB 972 could also give too much power to law enforcement agencies to decide if and when police footage is released, which would decrease the transparency of police operations.
Sponsor Rep. John Faircloth, R-Guilford, said the measure strikes a balance between police accountability and the rights of private citizens, noting that cameras see what officers see, including people in their homes at some of their most difficult moments, such as a domestic violence incident.
Under the bill, anyone captured in police video or audio could request to see it but would not be allowed to have a copy. No copies of police video could be released to the public unless ordered by a judge.
"This bill provides that the only right a citizen has to get access to that video is by filing a lawsuit, and that's prohibitively expensive," Jones said. "We know from the public records law, which also has a similar provision, that citizens are unable to file those lawsuits."
Rep. Joe Sam Queen, D-Haywood, said making body camera and dashboard camera video more readily available to the public would increase the transparency of police operations.