City residents are getting an update on the Raleigh Police Department’s draft policies that will govern its officers’ use of body-worn cameras.
The department says it plans to equip 600 officers with body-worn cameras in the coming years. The police department began testing the devices from three different body-camera vendors in early October when 20 of its uniformed patrol officers were outfitted with the devices and trained on how to use them. Integrated dash-mounted cameras were also installed in five of the 20 officers patrol cars.
The Raleigh police commanders will make 45-minute presentations about the cameras and their use during 18 citizen advisory council or CAC meetings throughout the city. The meetings began Monday and will continue until late August. The police department is encouraging residents to offer their feedback.
A focal point of their presentation will be the state law that prohibits public access to body camera footage, which is considered “records of criminal investigations” gathered by law enforcement agencies to prevent or solve violations of the law, said police spokeswoman Laura Hourigan. Members of the public would have to obtain a court order to view the recordings.
A draft of the department’s operating instructions on the city’s website indicates that officers are required to activate body cameras and mounted dash cameras during traffic stops, arrests, unlawful disturbances or disorders, calls involving emotionally or mentally disturbed persons and during all warrantless searches of individuals, vehicles, buildings or other places.
The department prohibits the use of body cameras to record their fellow officers or city employees, and use of the devices is not permitted in places where there is a heightened expectation of privacy, including locker rooms, dressings rooms or restrooms.
Officers cannot record strip searches or known confidential informants or undercover officers unless they are targets of a criminal investigation, judicial proceedings in courtrooms, privileged communications between a defendant and attorney, or peaceful and lawful assemblies, pickets, parades and protests.
Body-worn cameras have been increasingly cited as a potential solution to reducing conflicts between police and the public after police shot and killed an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014. A year after the shooting, President Barack Obama announced $20 million in funding for law enforcement agencies interested in using the cameras.
In the Triangle, Chapel Hill has 50 of the devices in operation, with plans to install more. In Durham, about 150 cameras have been deployed, and the department is creating a body camera unit. Garner is testing the devices with a trial program this summer, and Cary has a small number of body cameras for its motorcycle officers and use during special events.
After the Ferguson shooting, N.C. General Assembly approved $2.5 million for law enforcement agencies that want to buy the cameras, providing an agency up to $100,000 for cameras, as long as it pays $2 for every $1 the state matches.
Hear for yourself
The Raleigh Police Department will give an update on its plans to equip officers with body cameras at the following Citizens Advisory Council meetings:
▪ July 12, 7 p.m. at Five Points CAC meeting at Five Points Center for Active Adults, 2000 Noble Rd.
▪ July 13, 7 p.m. at the Northeast CAC meeting at Marsh Creek Park, 3050 New Hope Rd.
▪ July 13, 7 p.m. at Southeast CAC meeting at Barwell Road Center, 5857 Barwell Park Dr.
▪ July 17, 7 p.m. at East CAC meeting at Lions Park, 516 Dennis Ave.
▪ July 18, 7 p.m. at West CAC meeting at Woodland Center, 5611 Jaguar Park Dr.
▪ July 20, 7 p.m. at Atlantic CAC meeting at Green Road Community Center, 4201 Green Rd.
▪ July 20, 7 p.m. at Hillsborough CAC meeting at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, 1801 Hillsborough St.
▪ July 24, 7:30 p.m. at Glenwood CAC meeting at Glen Eden Pilot Park, 1500 Glen Eden Dr.
▪ July 24, 7:30 p.m. at Midtown CAC meeting at Five Points Center for Active Adults, 2000 Noble Rd.
▪ July 24, 7 p.m. at South Central CAC meeting at Roberts Park Community Center, 1300 E. Martin St.;
▪ Aug. 8, 7 p.m. at Northwest CAC meeting at Northwest District, 8016 Glenwood Ave.
▪ Aug. 15, 7 p.m. at North CAC meeting at Abbotts Creek Community Center, 9950 Durant Rd.;
▪ Aug. 22, 7 p.m. at Wade CAC meeting at Jaycee Park Module, 2405 Wade Ave.
For more information, contact Laura Hourigan with the Raleigh Police Department at 919-996-1219 or Laura.Hourgan@raleighnc.gov, or Housing and Neighborhoods Community Specialist Supervisor Sheila Lynch at 919-996-5713 or Sheila.Lynch@raleighnc.gov.