Attorney General Roy Cooper told The Associated Press on Wednesday he favors requiring police to wear body cameras. On Thursday, Democratic gubernatorial primary challenger Ken Spaulding said Cooper was late to the party.
Spaulding notes that he wrote a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory in December asking the governor to join in calling on the legislature to require the cameras. The letter was in response to President Barack Obama’s offer to help police departments buy the cameras, in the wake of the fatal shooting by police of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
Now, following the death of Walter Scott, who was shot to death as he fled a police officer in North Charleston, S.C. on Saturday, Spaulding says the attorney general has only spoken out because of the surge of public outrage across the country.
“Where was the chief law enforcement officer of this state, Attorney General Roy Cooper, before the North Charleston shooting?” Spaulding said in a statement he sent out Thursday. “Where was Roy Cooper on body cameras during the Ferguson and Eric Garner tragedies?” Garner was killed in a police choke hold in New York in July.
Cooper’s spokeswoman, Noelle Talley, said the attorney general has openly supported police body cameras for some time, but believes they are not the only solution to improving relations between law enforcement and communities. Having officers who are representative of the communities they work in is another important tool, she said.
Also, she noted, the current state in-service training programs for law enforcement includes an option on body cameras.
Spaulding is running for the Democratic nomination to run for governor in 2016. Cooper has not announced his candidacy, but is expected to. Gov. Pat McCrory will be seeking re-election.