AN ACT TO AUTHORIZE THE USE OF CITIZENS REVIEW BOARDS TO INVESTIGATE OR REVIEW ALLEGATIONS OF CERTAIN MISCONDUCT BY LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS.
Enacts new GS 160A-289.3 to allow a city, by ordinance, to establish a citizens' review board (board) to review appeals of disciplinary actions involving allegations of misconduct by law enforcement officers employed by the city's law enforcement agency. Limits misconduct to excessive use of force, abuse of power, and discriminatory profiling. Sets board membership at 5-11 members and sets out membership qualifications, including prohibiting members from being city employees, requiring members to attend a citizens' academy where available, and requiring members to have completed a ride-along with law enforcement. Members serve for two years and may not serve two consecutive terms; provides for member removal, filling of vacancies, and election of a chair and vice-chair. Requires members to sign a confidentiality agreement; violations of the agreement are a Class 1 misdemeanor, with up to $1,000 fine, and cause for removal.
Sets the board's powers and duties as: (1) advising the chief officer of a law enforcement agency; (2) making findings and recommendations on disciplinary action of a law enforcement officer alleged to have committed misconduct; and (3) recommending changes in policy or training of law enforcement officers to the city council and the head of the law enforcement agency within the city that established the citizens' review board. Allows specified board members to subpoena witnesses and compel the production of evidence. Allows any person involved in a hearing or proceeding before the board to be represented by an attorney. Sets out seven additional rights given to a law enforcement officer that is the subject of a hearing or proceeding before the board, including 15 days' notice; receipt of all documents, communications, and other evidence provided to the board related to the hearing or proceeding; and offering evidence, including, but not limited to, witnesses, documents, and other items. Prohibits a board from reviewing appeals of decisions to the city manager or the city's governing board. Requires the head of the law enforcement agency employing the officer in question to provide the board with the officer's personnel file and other necessary material; requires the board to keep the information confidential. Requires each element of the board's findings or recommendations to be predicated upon substantial, clear, and convincing evidence. Places the burden of proof on the city that established the board. Makes the board's recommendations as to disciplinary actions binding and confidential. Allows for appeal to the superior court. Sets out reporting requirements. Excludes from the board's authority: law enforcement officers employed by a county police department or sheriff's department located in a county, law enforcement officers employed by a company police agency, law enforcement officers employed by a campus police agency, and law enforcement officers employed by a special police agency.
Amends GS 132-1.4A to expand upon when a custodial law enforcement agency is allowed to disclose or release a recording to also include: (1) local agencies that partner with the custodial law enforcement agency, including specified emergency personnel for any internal investigation, administration decision making, or training purpose; (2) school resource officers to disclose the recordings to a juvenile whose image or voice is captured in the recording, the juvenile's parents or the legal guardians and school administrators; (3) a citizens' review board for review of complaints, if members execute a confidentiality agreement prior to viewing the recording; (4) to identify or locate a potential criminal suspect, victim of a crime, or missing person, so long as only a single or limited number of randomly selected still images of the face are released; (5) to the city or county manager for management and administrative purposes, so long as there is a confidentiality agreement in place before the viewing; and (6) to the city or town council in closed session and upon recommendation of the city or town manager and majority vote of the city or town council, so long as there is a confidentiality agreement in place before the viewing. Makes it a Class 3 misdemeanor, to be fined up to $500, to knowingly and willfully disclose or release a recoding.
Makes clarifying changes to GS 143-318.11.
Effective December 1, 2021.
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