Greensboro first NC city to consider police body camera video release policy

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- To date, only a handful of people have asked to see video recorded by body-worn cameras on police officers in Greensboro.

According to Police Chief Wayne Scott, none of them were in the video they wanted to see.

On any given day in Greensboro 240 officers are wearing body cameras, but now Greensboro’s City Council is trying to decide who should see the video they record.

"There's really no municipality that has a policy for any public release of police body camera footage. Adoption of this policy would make Greensboro a leader in this area and we would be the first,” explained Justin Outling, city council member, and District 3 representative.

Outling wrote the draft policy along with Mayor Nancy Vaughan. It allows video to be released in two cases. One, if you are in the video you can see it. And two, the city council can vote to release video to the public if they feel it is needed to restore confidence.

"In the event that there is something that happens that could really undermine public confidence and harm our city, city council is best positioned and would be able to provide the release of that footage,” Outling said.

Scott said he supports releasing video to people who are in it, but he says making all video public record is dangerous.

"We enter people's lives at the most private of times and we discuss issues with them that really they don't discuss with anyone else and really it's [in] my opinion, unfair and would create a problem if we allowed that to be public record for everyone,” Scott said.

The policy protects those situations, and wouldn’t release video from criminal investigations. Scott and the department has been focused on strengthening the relationship between officers and the community.

"It's important to us that we have as much transparency as possible, we believe that it's helpful if our community understands what we do every day, or day in and day out operations and the body cams will help bring clarity to that,” Scott said.

State lawmakers have yet to pass any legislation relating to body camera footage. Greensboro City Council plans to vote on the policy by May 3.

Under North Carolina law, police body camera footage is protected, therefore, any policy passed by the City of Greensboro would have to be approved by a state judge before it could become law.