House Bill 972, signed into law by NC governor Pat McCrory [R] on Tuesday, makes police dashcam and bodycam footage off-limits to public records requests, off-limits to anyone who isn't personally pictured in the footage, and then only by request, which can be turned down, forcing subjects to appeal to the state Supreme Court.
The measure is pitched as a privacy protection, but is so sweeping and indiscriminate that it can only be seen as a bid to eliminate the transparency that bodycams and dashcams were supposed to guarantee in the first place.
The Governor believes the legislation is fair for everyone.
"It's better to have rules and guidelines with all this technology than no rules and guidelines whatsoever," said McCrory.
The ACLU of North Carolina calls the legislation "shameful."
"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," said Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel for the ACLU of North Carolina. "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."
House Bill 972 / S.L. 2016-88 [North Carolina Legislative Assembly]
NEW LAW MAKES POLICE CAM FOOTAGE OFF LIMITS TO PUBLIC
[Elaina Athans/ABC 11]