LAW ENFORCEMENT RECORDINGS/NO PUBLIC RECORD (New)

View NCGA Bill Details2015-2016 Session
House Bill 972 (Public) Filed Tuesday, April 26, 2016
AN ACT TO PROVIDE THAT RECORDINGS MADE BY LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES ARE NOT PUBLIC RECORDS, TO ESTABLISH WHETHER, TO WHOM, AND WHAT PORTIONS OF A RECORDING MAY BE DISCLOSED OR A COPY RELEASED, TO ESTABLISH THE PROCEDURE FOR CONTESTING A REFUSAL TO DISCLOSE A RECORDING OR TO OBTAIN A COPY OF A RECORDING, TO DIRECT STATE OR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES TO PROVIDE, UPON REQUEST, ACCESS TO A METHOD TO VIEW AND ANALYZE RECORDINGS TO THE STATE BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION AND THE NORTH CAROLINA STATE CRIME LABORATORY, TO AUTHORIZE GOVERNMENTAL AND NONGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS TO ESTABLISH AND OPERATE HYPODERMIC SYRINGE AND NEEDLE EXCHANGE PROGRAMS, AND TO OFFER LIMITED IMMUNITY TO EMPLOYEES, VOLUNTEERS, AND PARTICIPANTS OF AUTHORIZED HYPODERMIC SYRINGE AND NEEDLE EXCHANGE PROGRAMS.
Intro. by Faircloth, McNeill.

Status: Ch. SL 2016-88 (House Action) (Jul 11 2016)

SOG comments (4):

Change Long Title

House committee substitute to the 1st edition changed long title.  Long title was AN ACT TO PROVIDE THAT BODY‑WORN CAMERA AND DASHBOARD CAMERA RECORDINGS ARE NOT PUBLIC RECORDS, TO ESTABLISH WHETHER, TO WHOM, AND WHAT PORTIONS OF A RECORDING MAY BE DISCLOSED OR A COPY RELEASED, TO ESTABLISH THE PROCEDURE FOR CONTESTING A REFUSAL TO DISCLOSE A RECORDING OR COPY, TO DIRECT ANY STATE OR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY THAT USES BODY‑WORN OR DASHBOARD CAMERAS TO PROVIDE A FREE COPY OF THE SOFTWARE THAT OPERATES THE RECORDING SYSTEM TO THE STATE BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION AND THE NORTH CAROLINA STATE CRIME LABORATORY, AND TO DIRECT THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE EDUCATION AND TRAINING STANDARDS COMMISSION AND THE SHERIFFS' EDUCATION AND TRAINING STANDARDS COMMISSION TO DEVELOP BEST PRACTICES FOR THE USE OF BODY‑WORN CAMERAS, AS RECOMMENDED BY THE JOINT LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY.

Long Title Change

Senate committee substitute to the 4th edition made changes to the long title. The original title was as follows:

AN ACT TO PROVIDE THAT RECORDINGS MADE BY LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES ARE NOT PUBLIC RECORDS, TO ESTABLISH WHETHER, TO WHOM, AND WHAT PORTIONS OF A RECORDING MAY BE DISCLOSED OR A COPY RELEASED, TO ESTABLISH THE PROCEDURE FOR CONTESTING A REFUSAL TO DISCLOSE A RECORDING OR TO OBTAIN A COPY OF A RECORDING, AND TO DIRECT STATE OR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES TO PROVIDE, UPON REQUEST, ACCESS TO A METHOD TO VIEW AND ANALYZE RECORDINGS TO THE STATE BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION AND THE NORTH CAROLINA STATE CRIME LABORATORY.

Bill History:

H 972/S.L. 2016-88

Bill Summaries:

  • Summary date: Jul 14 2016 - More information

    AN ACT TO PROVIDE THAT RECORDINGS MADE BY LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES ARE NOT PUBLIC RECORDS, TO ESTABLISH WHETHER, TO WHOM, AND WHAT PORTIONS OF A RECORDING MAY BE DISCLOSED OR A COPY RELEASED, TO ESTABLISH THE PROCEDURE FOR CONTESTING A REFUSAL TO DISCLOSE A RECORDING OR TO OBTAIN A COPY OF A RECORDING, TO DIRECT STATE OR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES TO PROVIDE, UPON REQUEST, ACCESS TO A METHOD TO VIEW AND ANALYZE RECORDINGS TO THE STATE BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION AND THE NORTH CAROLINA STATE CRIME LABORATORY, TO AUTHORIZE GOVERNMENTAL AND NONGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS TO ESTABLISH AND OPERATE HYPODERMIC SYRINGE AND NEEDLE EXCHANGE PROGRAMS, AND TO OFFER LIMITED IMMUNITY TO EMPLOYEES, VOLUNTEERS, AND PARTICIPANTS OF AUTHORIZED HYPODERMIC SYRINGE AND NEEDLE EXCHANGE PROGRAMS. Enacted July 11, 2016. Sections 1 through 3 are effective October 1, 2016. The remainder is effective July 11, 2016.


  • Summary date: Jun 29 2016 - More information

    House amendment makes the following changes to the 5th edition.

    Amends proposed GS 132-1.4A by adding the following. Allows a person authorized to receive disclosure under (c) of the statute, or the custodial law enforcement agency, to petition the superior court in any county where any portion of the recording was made for an order releasing the recording to a person authorized to receive disclosure. Prohibits charging a fee for filing the petition and specifies requirements for the petition form and required included information. Requires notice and an opportunity to be heard to be given to the head of the custodial law enforcement agency when the petitioner is a person authorized to receive disclosure. Requires these petitions to be set for hearing as soon as practicable and given priority by the court. Requires the court to determine if the person to whom release is requested is a person authorized to receive disclosure, and allows the court to make the determination in an in-camera review of the recording, with discretion to allow the petitioner to be present to identify the image or voice in the recording. If the court determines that the person is not authorized to receive disclosure, there is no right of appeal and the petitioner may file an action for release under the statute. If the court determines that the person to whom release of the recording is requested is a person authorized to receive disclosure under the statute, the court must consider the standards in the statute and others the court deems relevant in determining whether to order the release of all or a portion of the recording. Allows the court to conduct an in-camera review of the recording. Specifies that the court must release only those portions of the recording that are relevant to the request and allows the court to place conditions or restrictions on the release of the recording the court deems appropriate. Makes conforming changes.


  • Summary date: Jun 28 2016 - More information

    Senate committee substitute makes the following changes to the 4th edition.

    Amends Article 5C of GS Chapter 90, concerning drug paraphernalia, by enacting GS 90-113.27, which authorizes needle and hypodermic syringe exchange programs authorized and extend immunity in limited circumstances.

    Authorizes any governmental or nongovernmental organization, including a local or district health department or an organization that promotes scientifically proven ways of mitigating health risks associated with drug use and other high risk behaviors, to establish and operate a needle and hypodermic syringe exchange program (exchange program), with the objectives to reduce the spread of HIV, AIDS, viral hepatitis, and other bloodborne diseases in the state; reduce needlestick injuries to law enforcement officers and other emergency personnel; and encourage individuals who inject drugs to enroll in evidence-based treatment.

    Requires exchange programs to offer all of the following: (1) disposal of used needles and hypodermic syringes; (2) needles, hypodermic syringes, and other injection supplies at no cost and in quantities sufficient to ensure that needles, hypodermic syringes, and other injection supplies are not shared or reused; (3) reasonable and adequate security of program sites, equipment, and personnel; (4) educational materials; (5) access to naloxone kits or referrals to programs that provide such access; and (6) personal consultations from a program employee or volunteer concerning mental health or addiction treatment, as appropriate, for each individual requesting services. Prohibits the use of public funds to purchase needles, hypodermic syringes, or other injection supplies. Requires the written plans for security to be updated annually, and requires the plans for security to be provided to the police and sheriff's offices with jurisdiction in the program location.

    Provides immunity to every employee, volunteer, or participant of programs established under the statute so that they cannot be charged with or prosecuted for possession of needles, hypodermic syringes, or other injection supplies obtained from or returned to an exchange program, or residual amounts of a controlled substance contained in a used needle, used hypodermic syringe, or used injection supplies obtained from or returned to an exchange program, notwithstanding any provision of the Controlled Substances Act in Article 5 of GS Chapter 90. Conditions the limited immunity to apply only if the person claiming immunity provides written verification that a needle, syringe, or other injection supplies were obtained from a needle and hypodermic syringe exchange program established pursuant to the statute. Established immunity from civil liability for a law enforcement officer who acts in good faith in arresting or charging a person who is thereafter determined to be entitled to immunity from prosecution under the statute.

    Requires organizations establishing exchange programs to report certain information to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) prior to commencing operations.

    Also requires organizations operating exchange programs to report specified information to DHHS's Division of Public Health (DPH) no later than one year after commencing operations and every 12 months thereafter.

    Makes conforming change to the long title.

    Provides that this new Section 4 is effective when it becomes law and that Sections 1, 2, and 3 (all provisions of the previous edition related to law enforcement recordings) of the act are effective October 1, 2016, and apply to all requests made on or after that date for the disclosure or release of a recording. 


  • Summary date: Jun 23 2016 - More information

    House amendments make the following changes to the 3rd edition.

    Amendment #1 amends subsection (g) of proposed GS 132-1.4A to add to the purposes for which a custodial law enforcement agency must disclose or release a recording to a district attorney, to require disclosure or release for the purpose of use in criminal proceedings in district court. Makes technical changes.

    Amendment #4 amends subsection (f) of proposed GS 132-1.4A, concerning the release of recordings generally and the requirement of a court order, to allow the court to place any conditions or restrictions of the release of the recording that the court, in its discretion, deems appropriate when the court releases the portions of the recording that are relevant to the person's request, pursuant to subsection (f).

    Amends GS 143-318.11(a), which sets out when a public body is authorized to hold a closed session and exclude the public, to add a new subdivision to permit a public body to hold a closed session and exclude the public when a closed session is required to view a recording released pursuant to GS 132-1.4A, as enacted by the act.


  • Summary date: Jun 22 2016 - More information

    House committee substitute makes the following changes to the 2nd edition.

    Amends proposed GS 132-1.4A, Law enforcement agency recordings, changing introductory language to subsection (d) to Disclosure; Factors for Consideration instead of Disclosure; Denial of Disclosure. Makes technical and clarifying changes to soften the language of the subsection and focus more on the factors for consideration for disclosing a recording instead of the denial of disclosure. 


  • Summary date: Jun 8 2016 - More information

    House committee substitute makes the following changes to the 1st edition.

    Changes the long and short titles of the act.

    Deletes all provisions of the previous edition and now provides the following.

    Section 1

    Enacts new GS 132-1.4A to be titled Law enforcement agency recordings, to provide as follows.

    Establishes that recordings are not public records as defined by GS 132-1 or personnel records as defined in Part 7 of GS Chapter 126, GS 160A-168, or GS 153A-98 (provisions concerning the privacy of personnel records of State employees, City and Town employees, and County employees). Defines recording as a visual, audio, or visual and audio recording captured by a body-worn camera, a dashboard camera, or any other video or audio recording device operated by or on behalf of a law enforcement agency or law enforcement agency personnel when carrying out law enforcement responsibilities. Provides that recording does not include any video or audio recordings of interviews regarding agency internal investigations or interviews or interrogations of suspects or witnesses. Defines body-worn camera as an operational video or digital camera or other electronic device, including a microphone or other mechanism for allowing audio capture, affixed to the uniform or person of law enforcement agency personnel and positioned in a way that allows the camera or device to capture interactions the law enforcement agency personnel has with others. Defines dashboard camera as a device or system installed or used in a law enforcement agency vehicle that electronically records images or audio depicting interaction with others by law enforcement agency personnel. Provides that dashboard camera does not include body-worn cameras. 

    Establishes that recordings, as defined by the statute, in the custody of a law enforcement agency can only be disclosed as provided in the statute. Defines disclose or disclosure as meaning to make a recording available for viewing or listening by the person requesting disclosure, at the time and location chosen by the custodial law enforcement agency. Provides that the term disclose or disclosure does not include the release of a recording. Defines custodial law enforcement agency as the law enforcement agency that owns or leases, or whose personnel operates, the equipment that created the recording at the time the recording was made. Defines release as to provide a copy of a recording.

    Requires a person requesting the disclosure of a recording to make a written request to the head of the custodial law enforcement agency that states the date and approximate time of the activity captured in the recording or otherwise identifies the activity with reasonable particularity sufficient to identify the recording to which the request refers.

    Authorizes the head of the custodial law enforcement agency to disclose a recording to (1) a person whose image or voice is in the recording; (2) a personal representative of an adult person whose image or voice is in the recording, if the adult person has consented to the disclosure; (3) a personal representative of a minor or of an adult person under lawful guardianship whose image or voice is in the recording; (4) a personal representative of a deceased person whose image or voice is in the recording; or (5) a personal representative of an adult person who is incapacitated and unable to provide consent to disclosure. Defines personal representative as a parent, court-appointed guardian, spouse, or attorney of a person whose image or voice is in the recording. Provides that, if a person whose image or voice is in the recording is deceased, the term personal representative also means the personal representative of the estate of the deceased person; the deceased person's surviving spouse, parent, or adult child; the deceased person's attorney; or the parent or guardian of a surviving minor child of the deceased.

    Establishes that, when disclosing the recording, the law enforcement agency can only disclose those portions of the recording that are relevant to the person's request. Prohibits the person receiving the disclosure pursuant to subsection (c) from recording or copying the recording.

    Requires that, as promptly as possible upon receipt of the written request for disclosure, the custodial law enforcement agency must either disclose the portion of the recording relevant to the person's request or notify the requestor of the custodial law enforcement agency's decision not to disclose the recording to the requestor. Allows the custodial law enforcement agency to deny disclosure based on any of the six following factors: (1) the person requesting disclosure of the recording is not a person authorized to receive disclosure pursuant to subsection (c) of the statute; (2) the recording contains information that is otherwise confidential or exempt from disclosure or release under State or federal law; (3) disclosure would reveal information regarding a person that is of a highly sensitive personal nature; (4) disclosure may harm the reputation or jeopardize the safety of a person; (5) disclosure would create a serious threat to the fair, impartial, and orderly administration of justice; or (6) confidentiality is necessary to protect either an active or inactive internal or criminal investigation or potential internal or criminal investigation.

    Creates an appeal for the person seeking disclosure by applying to the superior court in any county where any portion of the recording was made for a review of either a law enforcement agency's denial of disclosure pursuant to subsection (d) of the statute or failure to provide disclosure more than three business days after the request for disclosure. Provides that the court may conduct an in camera review of the recording. Authorizes the court to order the disclosure of the recording only if the court finds that the law enforcement agency abused its discretion in denying the request for disclosure, and may only order disclosure of those portions of the recording that are relevant to the person's request. Similar to subsection (c) of the statute, prohibits a person who receives disclosure pursuant to subsection (e) from recording or copying the recording. Bars an order issued pursuant to subsection (e) of the statute from ordering the release of the recording.

    Requires that, in any appeal proceeding, the following persons must be notified and those persons, or their designated representative, must be given an opportunity to be heard at any proceeding: (1) the head of the custodial law enforcement agency, (2) any law enforcement agency personnel whose image or voice is in the recording and the head of that person's employing law enforcement agency, and (3) the District Attorney. Sets out that appeal actions are to be set for a hearing as soon as practicable, and subsequent proceedings in the actions are to be accorded priority by the trial and appellate courts.

    Establishes that a recording in the custody of a law enforcement agency can only be released pursuant to a court order. Allows any custodial law enforcement agency or any person requesting release to file an action in the superior court in any county where any portion of the recording was made for an order releasing the recording. Requires the request for release to state the date and approximate time of the activity captured in the recording, or otherwise identify the activity with reasonable particularity sufficient to identify the recording to which the action refers. Provides that the court may conduct an in camera review of the recording. Establishes that, in determining whether to order the release of all or a portion of the recording, in addition to any standards the court deems relevant, the court must consider the applicability of the following eight standards, similar to the factors a custodial law enforcement agency may base its denial of disclosure upon: (1) release is necessary to advance a compelling public interest; (2) the recording contains information that is otherwise confidential or exempt from disclosure or release under State or federal law; (3) the person requesting release is seeking to obtain evidence to determine legal issues in a current or potential court proceeding; (4) release would reveal information regarding a person that is of a highly sensitive personal nature; (5) release may harm the reputation or jeopardize the safety of a person; (6) release would create a serious threat to the fair, impartial, and orderly administration of justice; (7) confidentiality is necessary to protect either an active or inactive internal or criminal investigation or potential internal or criminal investigation; and (8) there is good cause shown to release all portions of the recording. Provides that a court can only release those portions of the recording that are relevant to the person's request. Requires that, in any proceeding for the release of a recording, the following persons, or their designated representative, must be given an opportunity to be heard at any proceeding: (1) the head of the custodial law enforcement agency, (2) any law enforcement agency personnel whose image or voice is in the recording and thr head of that person's employing law enforcement agency, and (3) the District Attorney. Sets out that actions are to be set for a hearing as soon as practicable, and subsequent proceedings in the actions are to be accorded priority by the trial and appellate courts.

    Requires that a custodial law enforcement agency must disclose or release a recording to a district attorney for review of potential criminal charges in order to comply with discovery requirements in a criminal prosecution or any other law enforcement purpose. In addition, a custodial law enforcement agency may disclose or release a recording for law enforcement training purposes, within the custodial law enforcement agency for any administrative, training, or law enforcement purpose, or to another law enforcement agency for law enforcement purposes.

    Requires that any recording subject to the provisions of the statute are to be retained for at least a period of time required by the applicable records retention and disposition schedule developed by the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Division of Archives and Records.

    Requires each law enforcement agency that uses body-worn cameras or dashboard cameras to adopt a policy applicable to the use of those cameras.

    Establishes that no civil liability can arise from compliance with the statute, provided that the acts or omissions are made in good faith and do not constitute gross negligence, willful or wanton misconduct, or intentional wrongdoing.

    Allows a law enforcement agency to charge a fee to offset the cost incurred by it to make a copy of a recording for release that cannot exceed the actual costs of making the copy.

    Prohibits the court from awarding attorneys' fees to any party in any action brought pursuant to the statute.

    Section 2

    Enacts new GS 153A-458, GS 160A-490.1, and GS 114-64 to require the local law enforcement agency of any county or city, and any State law enforcement agency that uses the services of the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) or the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory, to analyze a recording covered by GS 132-1.4A, as enacted by the act, to, at no cost, provide access to a method to view and analyze the recording upon request of the SBI or the State Crime Laboratory. 

    Enacts new Article 8A to the Criminal Procedure Act, GS Chapter 15A, to require that any State or local law enforcement agency that uses the services of the SBI or the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory to analyze a recording covered by GS 132-1.4A, to, at no cost, provide access to a method to view and analyze the recording upon request of the SBI or the State Crime Laboratory. 

    Provides that the act is effective October 1, 2016, and applies to all requests made on or after that date for the disclosure or release of a recording.


  • Summary date: Apr 26 2016 - More information

    Enacts new GS 132-1.4A, which provides as follows. Specifies that recordings, which are defined as visual, audio, or visual and audio recordings captured by a body-worn or a dashboard camera, are not public records. Gives the head law enforcement officer of the agency that has custody of the recording the power to determine whether an individual recording is a personnel record. Recordings determined to be a personnel record are subject to GS Chapter 126 (North Carolina Human Resources Act), Part 4 (Personnel) of Article 7 of GS Chapter 160A (Cities), or Part 4 (Personnel) of Article 5 of GS Chapter 153A (Counties). Body-worn camera is defined as an operational video or digital camera or other electronic device, including a microphone or other mechanism for allowing audio capture, affixed to a law enforcement officer’s uniform or person and positioned in a way that allows the camera or device to capture interactions the law enforcement officer has with the public. Dashboard camera is defined as a device or system installed or used in a law enforcement vehicle that electronically records images depicting activities that take place during a traffic stop, vehicle pursuit, vehicle search, and other interaction with the public that is within the range of the camera; the term does not include body-worn cameras. The new statute also defines disclose or disclosure and personal representative.

    Includes whereas clauses. Requires the head law enforcement officer of a custodial law enforcement agency to determine whether, to whom, and what portions of a recording may be disclosed and whether a copy of the recording may be released. Provides that a law enforcement agency is not required to consider a disclosure or release request unless the person making the request states the date and approximate time of the incident or encounter or otherwise identifies the incident or encounter with reasonable particularity. Establishes the presumption that a custodial law enforcement agency will disclose a recording or portion thereof to a person depicted in the recording or to that person’s personal representative upon request, unless the head of the agency determines otherwise. Requires disclosing only those portions of the recording that are relevant to the person’s presence in the recording. Sets out eight factors that are to be considered by the head law enforcement officer when determining whether to make a disclosure or release a copy of a recording.

    Requires providing a written explanation to the person making a request if the head law enforcement officer redacts portions of a recording or declines to disclose a recording or to release a copy of a recording. Sets out the procedure for obtaining a court order compelling disclosure or release of a copy when a person is denied disclosure or denied a copy of the recording. Sets out provisions concerning awarding attorneys' fees. Requires that the court consider the same eight factors that the head law enforcement officer is required to consider when the court is deciding whether to order that a recording be disclosed or that a copy of the recording be provided to the requesting party.

    Requires any law enforcement agency that uses body-worn cameras or dashboard cameras to retain the recording for at least the period of time required by the State Archives schedule for “law enforcement video and audio recordings.” Allows a law enforcement agency to charge a fee to offset the cost incurred in making a copy of the requested recording, not to exceed actual costs.

    The above provisions apply to all body-worn camera recordings and dashboard camera recordings made on or after October 1, 2016.

    Requires the Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission and the Sheriffs’ Education and Training Standards Commission, in consultation with the UNC School of Government and North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys, to develop best practices for the use of body-worn cameras by local and state law enforcement. Specifies issues that must be addressed by the best practices. Requires a report on the recommendations to the chairs of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety by December 1, 2016.

    Enacts new GS 153A-458 (county), new GS 160A-490.1 (city), new GS 114-64, and new GS 15A-220 requiring local law enforcement agencies of any county or city and any state or local law enforcement agency using body-worn cameras or dashboard cameras when carrying out law enforcement responsibilities to give the State Bureau of Investigation and the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory a free copy of the software necessary to operate the recordings from the cameras if the law enforcement agency uses the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory to analyze the recordings. New GS 15A-220 is enacted under new Article 8A, Law Enforcement Agencies to Provide Body-worn and Dashboard Camera Software to SBI and Crime Laboratory, of GS Chapter 15A. These statutes apply to any law enforcement agency that has or is using body-worn or dashboard cameras on or after December 1, 2016.


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