All Burlington patrol officers receive body cameras, discuss video release policy

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BURLINGTON, N.C. – All Burlington police officers out in the field will soon wear body cameras.

Captain Chad Slaughter said all of the officers are training on the cameras this month, and each officer will begin to wear his or her camera as soon as his or her training is complete.

Slaughter said all 120 officers will have cameras -- only the four captains, two assistant chiefs and one chief will not have cameras, as they are rarely out in the field.

"We get complained on sometimes by citizens and we investigate those complaints when we get them," Slaughter said. "And what the body-worn camera does is it provides the facts of what happened."

Captain Slaughter said the department purchased 13 cameras in 2014 to test out which model to ultimately purchase. Slaughter said since that time, body camera footage has already cleared officers of wrongdoing in disputes.

The Burlington Police Department, with input from the NAACP, ACLU and Alamance County District Attorney's Office, developed a policy for when to release the video from body cameras.

The policy states that, in general, the video will not be released unless authorized by either the written release of the employee who captured the video, and permission of the police chief, or, at the direction of the police chief and action by the city council.

Slaughter added that felony case material will not be released without the permission of the Chief of Police and the District Attorney. And if the person requesting the video is not the person in the video, the video will generally not be released without written permission of the person in the video.

The policy states that for misdemeanor cases, the Chief of Police can choose to release the video if it has "a compelling public interest." However, the same rule applies that "generally, if the requestor is not the person in the video, the video will not be released without the written permission of the person in the video."

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