State Politics

PolitiFact NC: ACLU correct about body cam secrecy

The Taser Axon Flex Body police camera, one of several types available to police departments.
The Taser Axon Flex Body police camera, one of several types available to police departments. gmelendez@thestate.com

A bill that passed the N.C. General Assembly on Wednesday will create statewide rules for police body camera and dash camera footage, if Gov. Pat McCrory signs it into law.

The bill’s main sponsors – two Republican members of the N.C. House who are retired law enforcement officers – have said it strikes a balance between the interests of police and the public.

But open-government advocates including the state American Civil Liberties Union chapter say the opposite – that this bill would give police inordinate power to keep footage shielded from the public.

"Giving law enforcement such broad authority to keep video footage secret – even from individuals who are filmed – will damage law enforcement’s ability to build trust with the public and destroy any potential this technology had to make officers more accountable to the communities they serve," said ACLU attorney Susanna Birdsong in a news release.

Is Birdsong right that the police will have such broad power to keep video secret that they can even prevent people in the footage from watching it? PolitiFact NC says yes.

Fact check

Speaker: ACLU of North Carolina

Statement: The proposed NC law for body camera footage gives police “broad authority to keep video footage secret – even from individuals who are filmed.”

Ruling: Police can keep people from viewing videos they’re in, and they have many ways of doing so. Police also have rights not afforded to regular citizens to attend court hearings and testify about footage that someone has asked to be made public. This claim is true.

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