Thursday, March 10, 2016

Misguided Assumptions Created Because of Misguided Intentions.

My opinion of Yes-Weekly has elevated. As some of you are aware the debate of police body cameras in Greensboro has been no debate at all. The public wants the videos made public and someone within the City or the Greensboro Police Department wants them kept private, has a history of abusing the video evidence and has to date been making up State laws that never existed.

Well in this week's Yes-Weekly Roch Smith jr writes A better way on police body camera video in Greensboro in which he points out:

"Until recently, GPD claimed that the recordings were part of employees’ personnel files and, therefore, confidential under state law. But state law requires that information in personnel files be retained for 30 years—prohibitively expensive for these videos—so the excuses offered by GPD have recently shifted to say that the videos are records of “criminal investigations,” a category of information that state law does not make explicitly confidential nor public, giving discretion to the custodian of the record whether to release it or not. This discretion is what allows the police, for example, to release surveillance footage of a criminal suspect if they think it might help solve a crime, but they don’t have to—as they will not with body-camera videos."

But Roch also writes:

 "Under North Carolina law, when a public record is used in a criminal investigation or for personnel purposes, it does not loose its status as a public record. The record of a speeding ticket doesn’t become confidential just because it is added to an employee’s personnel file. A building permit doesn’t become confidential just because the police use it in a criminal investigation. So reclaiming the original public purpose of these cameras means the police cannot put the videos they record off limits just because they also use them to solve crimes or discipline employees."

I recommend you read all of  A better way on police body camera video in Greensboro
where Greensboro's resident expert on what is and isn't public record in North Carolina tells it like it is and tells the City of Greensboro and Greensboro Police Department the smartest path to take.

This public records thing is not a game. It's the key to open and honest government. Roch has been leading the way on this for years in Greensboro, get behind his efforts today.