Critics Say New Law Restricts Public Access to Police Body and Dash Cam Video
CHARLOTTE, NC – A controversial new law is now in effect, making it more difficult for police to release body and dash cam video to the public.
“The main thing that they should be wanting to do is to instill public trust in the system,” says Robert Dawkins, with SAFE Coalition NC.
Dawkins says police video like the ones showing the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott, should always be released to the public.
“It’s the public’s domain. Just like the police car belongs to the public, the officer’s salary is paid by the public, anything that’s done on their job should be available for the public,” Dawkins says.
Starting today, a new law could make it more difficult for the public to see police videos.
House Bill 972 requires a judge’s approval before any video is released to the public.
“I think the public has the right to determine, for themselves, what they see,” explains attorney Adam Seifer, with SeiferFlatow Law Firm.
He says along with adding time and legal costs, the new law could fuel speculation rather than fact.
“People always assume the worst and they always say, ‘Well, what are the police hiding?’ even when there is nothing to hide. It’s just going to cause more problems than it really prevents,” Seifer says.
But supporters like Governor Pat McCrory, who signed the bill into law, say it puts the decision to release video in front of a neutral party.
“What the new state law will actually do is take the politics, the politics of the media, the politics of the politicians, the politics of whoever has input in this and let a judge determine the balance between releasing information versus the rights of those being investigated,” McCrory says.