In the wake of the recent shootings and protests in Charlotte, North Carolina, the state has passed a law that will make it much more difficult for footage of police shootings to become public.
The police in Charlotte faced a lot of pressure this month to release the body and dashboard camera footage of the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. Just a week after the footage was released, House Bill 972 was passed, establishing that recordings made by law enforcement officials, including those from body and dashboard cameras, would no longer be a matter of public record.
According to the bill, footage captured by the police will be disclosed only to a person or representative of the person “whose image or voice” is included in the recording. Anyone else interested in obtaining the recording will be required to make a formal, written request.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory stated, “This legislation fulfills our commitment to protect our law enforcement and gain public trust by promoting uniformity, clarity and transparency.”
However, the legislation definitely drew some criticism. American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Susanna Birdsong said in a statement, “Body cameras should be a tool to make law enforcement more transparent and accountable. This shameful law will make it nearly impossible to achieve those goals.”
The bill was signed into law in July, with relevant sections of it going into effect on October 1.