GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The Greensboro City Council did not vote on a resolution written by a group of local activists to make police body camera video public record at its meeting Tuesday night. The council did vote on a motion by Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson to ask lawmakers in Raleigh to repeal HB 972, a law that requires anyone wanting to see body camera video get a court order, but that motion failed.
Instead, council members agreed unanimously to take a different approach and enter into a dialogue with State Representative John Faircloth about the law. HB 972 was signed by the governor just last week and Faircloth is one of the sponsors.
The public comment period got emotional as people asked the council to consider their resolution, “the issue is there is no way that we should as community agree with this house bill,” said Rev. Cardes Brown.
Lewis Pitts, a Greensboro resident and former civil rights attorney, says the group’s law is the only one that is transparent and still balanced, “the people's ordinance which contains a balanced approach that does allow public access while protecting somethings such as privacy,” Pitts said.
City Attorney Tom Carruthers says the problem is that approving a new body camera policy directly violates state law.
“We would basically be directing our city manager to have our employees break the law if that's what we voted for,” said Marykay Abuzuaiter, council member at large.
Council members say beginning a conversation with Rep. Faircloth in the next few months is more likely to make an impact on policy than sending a symbolic resolution to the general assembly expressing their displeasure with the law.
“I think that he would be interested to hear what the real world is saying about this and since there is nothing they can do about it between now and January there is no reason why we can't go and have those discussions with him,” said Mayor Nancy Vaughan.