Community talks to lawmakers about HB972, police body cams - | WBTV Charlotte

Community talks to lawmakers about HB972, police body cams

(Source: WBTV/File) (Source: WBTV/File)

The community is asking for more answers concerning HB 972. The new law outlines a process on how the state should release police body cam video. 

Lawmakers say before HB 972 there was no procedure. The video stayed in the custody of the police department and it was part of an officer's personnel record and kept there. Now there are steps to release the video. The community thinks those steps hinder transparency.  

"I think HB 972 has as its emphasis of really covering up," Bishop Kevin Long said. "Or at least protecting police officers in the killing of unarmed motorists."

The new law states police body cam video will now be in the custody of the courts. If anyone wants it released, they must write a letter to the courts. A judge will decide if the video should be released. 

"I think it should be automatically released," Long said. "Again that's the nature of transparency- transparency is just being open with all information."

Senator Joel Ford voted for HB 972. 

"I will admit this is a poorly written bill," Ford said. "But there is a pathway for the video footage to be released."

Ford said he is willing to hear from the community about their concerns, but is confident HB 972 is a step in the right direction.

"This is a complex issue," Ford said. "And one - where we must respect law enforcement, two - the victim that is involved and respect the public has a right to know." 

The Urban United Faith Network is sponsoring a community town hall meeting to talk about HB2. Long is with the group. He hopes to learn more about the controversial law and figure out why lawmakers voted for it. 

"I think the reason we are coming tonight," Long said. "Is for the purpose of voter education."

Ford believes HB972 is better than what the state had, and believes removing politics out of releasing the video is a good thing. 

"We should not leave the video footage in the responsibility of a police chief," Ford said. "Or in the hands of anyone who is political. So we need an objective body to be able to review it and make that determination."

Releasing the video will be solely up to the courts. Ford doesn't believe that procedure will hinder transparency.  

"I am confident in the Mecklenburg County Superior Court judges," Ford said. "That we currently have right now - that we will get a fair and an objective review about releasing that video footage."

Despite Ford telling WBTV HB972 creates a pathway for transparency, the community says there are too many barriers to achieve transparency.

"If there is nothing to hide," Long said. "Then I think you release the footage."

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