North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory is at it again.
By “at it again,” I mean signing into law a controversial bill that is sure to cause liberals to spontaneously combust.
From the News & Observer:
Gov. Pat McCrory signed controversial legislation Monday regulating the release of recordings from police body and dashboard cameras.
There were growing calls for McCrory to veto the legislation because it makes it difficult for the public – including people involved in a recorded police action – to see it. But the Republican governor said the law will strike a balance between improving public trust in the police and respecting the rights of officers.
The general belief is that from short snippets of cell phone videos uploaded to YouTube, people have often got a distorted view of what actually occurred between police officers and those they confront, for whatever reason.
The worst cases have seen rampant protests and violence, long before any facts are released to the general public.
The North Carolina General Assembly easily passed the law with a vote of 48 – 2 in the Senate and 88 – 20 in the House.
Body camera footage is not now spelled out in state law as public record, and law enforcement agencies often made it inaccessible to the public by declaring recordings part of personnel files. The new law, which goes into effect Oct. 1, says the footage is not a public record or a personnel record.
The law allows people who are recorded, or their representatives, to see footage if law enforcement agencies agree. The police chief or sheriff would decide whether to grant access. The law enforcement agency can consider a number of factors in making the decision, including whether disclosure may harm someone’s reputation or jeopardize someone’s safety, or if confidentiality is “necessary to protect either an active or inactive internal or criminal investigation or potential internal or criminal investigation.”
While the ACLU and the perpetually aggrieved will call it restrictive, unconstitutional, and quite a few other terms meant to throw gasoline on what has already been a highly volatile year for McCrory, he calls it a fine line.
He said during the signing ceremony that legislators wrestled with how technology “can help us and how can we work with it, so it doesn’t also work against our police officers and public safety officials.”
“Technology like dashboard and body cameras can be very helpful, but when used by itself, technology can also mislead and misinform, which also causes other issues and problems within our community,” he said. “What we need to do is walk that fine line.”
No word on if McCrory’s Democrat challenger for the governorship, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, has poked his nose out of whatever hidey-hole he’s currently hunkered down in to give commentary.
If there’s heat with this story, however, you can bet it won’t be long.