Many of us tuned in last week when footage showing the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott surfaced. Originally, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief, Kerr Putney did not release the footage. After Mr. Scott’s family shared a video and massive public outcry, the video was released on September 24. Viewers would say that without a doubt, Mr. Scott was killed by CMPD, while lying down. Don’t force yourself to watch it, it’s gruesome. Chief Putney’s decision to share the video may be the last time video footage from a dashboard or body camera is released to the general public in North Carolina, without a court order. A new law, which goes into effect on October 1, will restrict the public from viewing or obtaining police video footage from dashboard or body cameras, unless a judge confirms the release.
The law blocking public access to police video footage was signed by Republican Governor Pat McCrory two months ago. According to Gov. McCrory, the law is intended to balance public trust with the rights of law enforcement.
So, what does this mean? We must ACT NOW to express our disdain for this legislation. Until Oct. 1, footage from dash cams and body cams are considered public record. It gives the public insight to incidents that occur, from the perspective of the officer. According to CNN, Governor McCrory said, “One viewpoint of a video doesn’t often always tell the whole story. The angles can make a difference, and [you’re] not hearing [the sound] often in the video, so that [adds to] the complexity. The video is one piece of evidence. We have to be careful.”
If law enforcement officers are properly serving and protecting, then why “be careful”? If procedure is followed, the video should tell a large part of the story. This legislation will be detrimental to thousands of victims of police brutality and it will legitimize unprofessional and violent police behavior. Law enforcement is a public service. The public should have the right to public records. We, the people, have a right to see how they interact with civilians.
Join us Thursday, September 29 at 7PM ET for a webinar to discuss the release of the new North Carolina law that will block the public from obtaining recordings from body cameras or dashboard cameras, similar to those uncovered in the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. The law is set to go into effect on October 1. We will also discuss best practices for advocacy in regard to this law on the local, state, and federal level.
To join the meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone, visit: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/997528045
You can also dial in using your phone.
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