As Legislature reconvenes in 2015, a bill is expected to be introduced that will require North Carolina police officers to wear a body camera while they are on duty. This bill is in response to the recent police-involved deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York City, New York.
Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Eric Garner was strangled to death by a New York City police officer. Both death-by-officer instances resulted in community outrage, protests and vandalism.
Purpose of the New Bill
Policymakers hope to put in place action that will help ensure these types of police-involved killings are avoided in North Carolina. The bill stems predominantly from the New York City case, where a bystander recorded the entire altercation and death of Eric Garner.
Working two-fold, the bill would protect both citizens and law enforcement.
Citizen Protection – Legal experts have speculated whether or not the officer would have acted differently had he been wearing a recording device.
Officer Protection – Bystanders could give authorities misconstrued accounts of what actually happened. Requiring officers to wear a body camera would help provide clarity while curtailing false accusations.
Our Expert Opinion
As criminal defense attorneys in the Raleigh area, we have been involved in a number of cases where a body camera was used and have frequently found that the recordings are very helpful to both the prosecution and the defense.
There’s no doubt body cameras would be an invaluable tool in protecting against police wrongdoing and unfounded accusations of misconduct. Read more about the proposed bill from WRAL.
However, the question remains: Should police officers be required to wear a recording device while on duty? This issue poses additional questions such as…
- Will all officers wear the cameras?
- What will the cameras record?
- Will the officers have the discretion to turn the cameras off?
- Under what circumstances will the recordings be released?
- What will the protocol be for school resource officers who work with minors?
- Will detectives and officers assigned to community policing also be required to wear the cameras?
The criminal defense lawyers of Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh have more than 45 years combined experience representing individuals charged with DWI, Felony Drug, Assault, Alcohol Offenses and more.