A House judiciary committee today voted to proceed with a bill that would allow law enforcement agencies to publicly release police videos depicting officer-involved shootings without receiving the officer’s permission.
Invoking the recent police shooting in North Charleston, S.C., that killed a fleeing unarmed man, Rep. John Faircloth, the lead sponsor or HB 713, told the committee, “I felt like we had to do this now, in case we had an incident.”
Titled “Body & Dash Cam Recording/Public Access,” the bill would not require police chiefs and sheriffs to disclose such videos. Rather, it would give them permission to do so in the interest of public safety, bypassing any state or local regulation protecting employee personnel records.
The bill adds a subsection to an existing statute requiring law enforcement agencies to treat video footage like any other criminal documentation in a suspect’s file. Members of the public who wish to access copies of video footage must specify the date and approximate time of the incident he wishes to see, according to the new bill’s language.
Critics point out that the bill would not change the fact that video captured by body and dash cameras are still protected from public information law.
The bill would not require police to use body or dash cameras while on patrol. Two separate bills have recently been proposed in attempt to require the majority of North Carolina law enforcement officers to wear body cameras while on duty.