Under the Dome

Police body camera grants get backing from NC House

Garner police officer Kevin Murray tests a body camera as he wears one on his patrol in Garner on April 8, 2015.
Garner police officer Kevin Murray tests a body camera as he wears one on his patrol in Garner on April 8, 2015. cseward@newsobserver.com

The N.C. House voted Thursday night to spend $5 million over the next two years to provide matching grants that would help local law enforcement agencies buy body cameras.

The budget amendment passed in a 109-2 vote with little discussion. The state budget office would develop the program with help from the Governor’s Crime Commission.

Each agency could receive a maximum of $100,000, and recipients would need to provide a match equal to double the grant amount.

Law enforcement receiving grants would be “required to have appropriate policies and procedures in place governing the operation of body-worn cameras and the proper storage of images recorded with those cameras.”

The amendment to create the program was sponsored by Republican Rep. Charles Jeter of Huntersville and Democratic Rep. Ed Hanes of Winston-Salem.

The grant program was the latest of several body cam-related actions from the House this year.

Last month, the chamber passed House Bill 811, which directs the Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission and the Sheriffs' Education and Training Standards Commission to work with the School of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys and any other organizations the first two agencies deem appropriate to prepare the study for delivery next year.

The study would be broad in scope, including the feasibility of having all enforcement officers use them, how to cover the cost, training, best practices for recording and public access to recordings.

Also in April, the House passed a bill that would shield body-cam and car dash camera recordings from public view unless the law enforcement agency determined it was in the interest of public safety to release it.

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