Bill Summary for H 706 (2019-2020)

Summary date: 

Apr 11 2019

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2019-2020 Session
House Bill 706 (Public) Filed Wednesday, April 10, 2019
AN ACT TO REQUIRE MOST LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS TO WEAR AND ACTIVATE BODY-WORN CAMERAS DURING CERTAIN INTERACTIONS WITH THE PUBLIC, TO ESTABLISH A USE POLICY FOR BODY-WORN CAMERAS AND DASHBOARD CAMERAS, TO ESTABLISH AN ACCESS POLICY FOR RECORDINGS CAPTURED BY BODY-WORN CAMERAS AND DASHBOARD CAMERAS, AND TO APPROPRIATE FUNDS.
Intro. by Brockman, Quick, Alexander, Hawkins.

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Bill summary

Repeals GS 132-1.4A, containing provisions for law enforcement agency recordings.

Enacts new Article 7 in GS Chapter 15A, Body-Worn Cameras and Dashboard Cameras, to provide the following. Effective January 1, 2018, for members and officers of the State Highway Patrol and county enforcement officers; effective January 1, 2019 for the remaining law enforcement officers subject to the act.

New GS 15A-202 requires a law enforcement officer to wear and activate a body-worn camera during any recordable interaction. Defines law enforcement officer as any employee of a law enforcement agency who (1) is actively serving in a position with primary duties and responsibilities for the prevention and detection of crime or the general enforcement of the criminal laws of the State, (2) possesses the power of arrest by virtue of an oath administered under the authority of the State, and (3) is primarily assigned to patrol duties. Adds that for purposes of Article 7, the term also includes on‑duty State correctional officers. Defines body-worn camera as an operational video camera provided by a law enforcement agency and affixed to a law enforcement officer's uniform and positioned in a way that allows the video camera to capture interactions the law enforcement officer has with the public. Requires the video camera to include a microphone or other mechanism for allowing audio capture. Provides the term does not include cameras privately owned and provided by a law enforcement officer. Defines recordable interaction as an interaction between a law enforcement officer, in his or her official capacity, and a member or members of the public, including an inmate or inmates of a State correctional facility. Provides the term includes traffic stops, arrests, searches, and interrogations not covered under GS 15A‑211, interviews with victims and witnesses, and pursuits. 

Requires a law enforcement officer to inform the person or people the law enforcement officer is interacting with that the interaction is being recorded, except when doing so would be unsafe, impractical, or impossible. Prohibits a law enforcement officer from deactivating a body-worn camera until (1) the conclusion of the recordable interaction; (2) the law enforcement officer has left the scene; (3) a supervisor, while being recorded, authorizes the law enforcement officer to deactivate the body‑worn camera; or (4) an exception listed in subsection (b) authorizes deactivation. Requires the law enforcement officer to announce that he or she is deactivating the body-worn camera and the reasons for deactivating prior to deactivating. Directs the law enforcement officer to note in any incident report prepared after a recordable interaction that a recording was made.

Subsection (b) details six situations or places in which a law enforcement officer is not required to activate a body-worn camera: (1) interactions with confidential informants and undercover officers; (2) during routine, non‑law enforcement related activities, including when a law enforcement officer is engaged in a personal conversation, when a law enforcement officer is using a rest room or bathroom, or when a law enforcement officer is dressing or undressing in a locker room or dressing room; (3) when a law enforcement officer is providing training or making a presentation to the public; (4) when entering a private residence under nonexigent circumstances, unless written or on‑camera consent is given by the owner or the occupier of the residence; (5) when a law enforcement officer is conducting a strip search, unless written or on‑camera consent is given by the person being strip searched; and (6) interactions with a victim or witness, unless written or on‑camera consent is given by the victim or witness.

Subsection (c) requires a law enforcement officer to read, agree to, and sign a written waiver that consists of consent by the officer to be recorded by a body-worn camera and an acknowledgment of the requirements of this statute, and the related policies established under subsection (i) of the statute by the law enforcement agency employing the officer.

Subsection (d) permits a recording captured by a body-worn camera pursuant to the statute to be used as evidence in any relevant administrative, civil, or criminal proceeding, if the recording is otherwise admissible in the proceeding. 

Subsection (e) permits a law enforcement agency to disclose or provide a copy of any recording captured by a body-worn camera to any person who submits a written request to the law enforcement agency. Authorizes the law enforcement agency, prior to disclosing or providing the recording copy, to redact any portion that a law enforcement officer is not required to record under subsection (b), or is otherwise prohibited by law from being disclosed. Requires the law enforcement agency to provide the requesting person a written statement explaining why portions of a recording are redacted or why the agency is declining to disclose or provide a copy of the recording. Clarifies that subsection (e) does not alter or supersede the requirement in subsection (f) that a law enforcement agency retain an original, unredacted recording. Provides that a person denied access to a recording or an unredacted recording can apply to the appropriate court for an order compelling disclosure or copying, and grants the court jurisdiction to issue the order. Requires an action under this subsection to be set for immediate hearing, with subsequent proceedings accorded priority by the trial and appellate courts. Establishes that the court can issue an order compelling disclosure or copying of portions or all of a recording captured by a body-worn camera under this statute upon a showing of good cause by the person seeking access, unless otherwise prohibited by law. Provides that if a city or county establishes a citizen review board a recording must be disclosed in its entirety, or by complete copy, to the board when requested by the board. Requires board members to keep all information obtained confidential.

Subsection (f) requires a law enforcement agency to retain an original, unredacted recording captured by a body-worn camera for the later of (1) 60 days from the date of the recording; (2) the period specified by court order; or (3) 10 days from the date an administrative, civil, or criminal proceeding in which the records were used as evidence concludes. 

Subsection (g) allows noncompliance with the provisions of the statute to be admissible as evidence to support claims made by a defendant in a criminal action or a party opposing the law enforcement officer or law enforcement agency in a civil action. 

Subsection (h) requires a law enforcement agency to provide training to officers on how to operate a body-worn camera prior to the officer wearing and activating a body-worn camera.

Subsection (i) directs the Department of Justice to develop a model policy or policies for law enforcement agencies to use in implementing the statute. Requires the policy to include disciplinary action for failing to activate a body-worn camera as required in subsection (a), up to and including dismissal from employment. Permits the policy to include standards more stringent than those required under this statute.

Enacts GS 15A-203, Use of dashboard cameras in law enforcement vehicles, requiring a law enforcement officer to activate the dashboard camera, if the law enforcement vehicle is equipped, when engaging in a traffic stop, vehicle pursuit, vehicle search, or other interaction with the public that is within the range of the camera. Defines dashboard camera 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. Provides the term does not include body‑worn cameras.

Requires a law enforcement officer to inform the person or people the law enforcement officer is interacting with that the interaction is being recorded, except when doing so would be unsafe, impractical, or impossible. Prohibits the officer from deactivating a dashboard camera until (1) the conclusion of the traffic stop, vehicle pursuit, vehicle search, or other interaction with the public; (2) the law enforcement officer has left the scene; (3) a supervisor, while being recorded, authorizes the law enforcement officer to deactivate the dashboard camera; or (4) an exception listed in subsection (b) authorizes deactivation. Requires the law enforcement officer to announce that he or she is deactivating the dashboard camera and the reasons for deactivating prior to deactivating. Directs the law enforcement officer to note in any incident report prepared after an interaction with the public that a recording was made using a dashboard camera.

Subsection (b) establishes that a law enforcement officer is not required to activate a dashboard camera in any of the places or situations listed in GS 15A-202, enacted above, to the extent that they are applicable.

Subsection (c) establishes that the requirements of GS 15A-202(c) through GS 15A-202(h) apply to the use of dashboard cameras under this statute. 

Subsection (d) clarifies that the statute does not require the installation of a dashboard camera in a law enforcement vehicle.

Appropriates to the Governor's Crime Commission within the Department of Public Safety (Commission) $5 million in nonrecurring funds from the General Fund for the 2019-20 fiscal year, and $5 million in nonrecurring funds for the 2020-21 fiscal year, to provide grants to law enforcement agencies for the purposes of purchasing and maintaining body-worn cameras pursuant to the act. Requires a grant provided by the act to be matched on the basis of $1 in grant funds for every $5 in nongrant funds. Clarifies that matching funds do not include State funds. Prohibits the Commission from providing a grant until the grantee provides evidence satisfactory to the Commission that the grantee has sufficient nongrant funds to match. Caps a grant provided under this program at $100,000. Directs the Commission to develop guidelines and procedures for the administration and distribution of grants under the program. Effective July 1, 2019.

Makes conforming changes to GS 15A-220, GS 114-64, GS 143-318.11, GS 153A-436.1, and GS 160A-490.1.

Effective January 1, 2021.

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