By WECT Staff | May 10, 2021 at 8:16 PM EDT – Updated May 12 at 5:09 PM
RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) – The North Carolina Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to pass SB 300 that would change the police body camera law. The bill now moves to the House for a vote.
Under a new provision added to a criminal justice reform bill in the state senate, family members of individuals involved in interactions with law enforcement that result in serious injuries or death would be able to see unredacted bodycam video of the incident within five days.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Senate Bill 300 Monday afternoon, which included an amendment that committee chairman Sen. Danny Britt (R-Robeson, Columbus) said he negotiated with the Legislative Black Caucus. Sen. Britt added that the law enforcement agency can ask a judge to have part of the video redacted if, for example, it captures a confidential informant.
“For weeks Senate Republicans have committed to reviewing the current laws related to body-worn camera footage at the appropriate time,” Sen. Britt said in an email news release. “Families deserve the chance to view footage of a serious incident as soon as possible, and in working with the Legislative Black Caucus we identified reasonable improvements to the existing process.”
The media and other members of the public are not included in this amendment. Those parties must petition a judge to have the law enforcement video released, as mandated by current state law.
Sen. Ben Clark (D-Cumberland, Hoke), who is a member of the Judiciary Committee, praised the amendment in a comment emailed to WECT. He filed SB 510 earlier in the session, which would release all law enforcement bodycam and dashcam video to the public within 48 hours of an incident, unless a judge declares it should be restricted.
“The provision regarding police body worn and dashboard camera footage that has been added to SB 300 is an important next step for transparency and accountability for law enforcement agencies in NC,” said Sen. Clark. “While it is still my hope that SB 510 — which would require the footage be released to the public within 48 hours — will be adopted in full, providing a less onerous way for families to see the video of a loved one’s interaction with law enforcement is the right thing to do.”
Sen. Britt says SB 300 includes several bipartisan reforms, including new mental health and wellness strategies training, psychological screenings, and an “early warning” system to track and document the use of force.
- Create a public database of law enforcement officer certification suspensions and revocations.
- Require all law enforcement officer fingerprints to be entered in state and federal databases.
- Authorize law enforcement agencies to participate in the FBI’s criminal background check systems.
- Create a database for law enforcement agencies of “critical incident information” which includes death or serious bodily injury.
- Require that written notification of Giglio material (credibility issues that would make an officer open to impeachment by the defense in a criminal trial) be reported.
- Allow health care providers to transport the respondent in an involuntary commitment
- Provide in-person instruction by mental health professionals and develop policies to encourage officers to utilize available mental health resources.
- Create an early warning system within each law enforcement agency to monitor officer actions and behaviors that might indicate a problem such as collisions, complaints, and critical incidents.
- Require the creation of a best practices recruitment guide to encourage diversity.
- Expand mandatory in-service training for officers to include mental health topics, community policing, minority sensitivity, use of force, and the duty to intervene and report.
- Create a duty for officers to intervene and report excessive use of force by another officer.
- Increase penalties for those who resist or obstruct an arrest and while doing so injure a law enforcement officer.
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