Body cam video should be public record

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We used this space in Wednesday’s edition of the Rocky Mount Telegram to commend law enforcement agencies in the Twin Counties for testing body cameras that could one day be as familiar to police and deputies as handcuffs and badges.

Today, we would like to urge the N.C. General Assembly and local governments to treat body cam video as they would any other public record. Making video readily available to the media and the public would go a long way to show the outside world how professionally the vast majority of police and deputies conduct themselves on a daily basis. It also would help restore confidence and goodwill at a time when police shootings and community unrest are driving a wedge between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve and protect.

The position of the N.C. Press Association – an organization representing almost all of the state’s daily and non-daily newspapers – has been very clear since Day 1 when it comes to body cam video. It should be part of the public record.

“There is no better means of describing or revealing the circumstances surrounding an arrest than releasing footage,” said Amanda Martin, an attorney who often represents the Press Association and its members in their crusade to keep the public informed.

A fully informed public helps build trust and credibility. Those qualities are too important to become casualties in a bid by some to keep government operations secret. Hiding the actions of public servants contradicts the openness so important in the creation of this country.

Comments

Motive?

I don't necessarily disagree with video being made public record, but I do question the motive behind the press association's desire to see this. I suspect it's more of a desire to do more "gotcha" journalism that anything else.

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