Police, ACLU draft new body camera policy for Carrboro

The Carrboro Police Department and the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina have worked jointly to draft a policy regarding the implementation of body-worn cameras by law enforcement, which was presented to the Carrboro Board of Aldermen Tuesday.

“We went to the drawing board, and I believe we have a good policy,” said Carrboro Police Chief Walter Horton.

The current draft policy provides guidelines for the use, management, retention and retrieval of the recordings from the body-worn cameras.

“After Ferguson, body cameras are being seen as valuable,” said Alderman Sammy Slade.

Police departments across the country have been considering the cameras since the nationwide protests that followed the shooting of an unarmed teenager by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., in August.

The utilization of body-worn cameras by law enforcement officers lends to exposing injustices and inconsistencies with police protocol, said Chris Brook, legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina. He said the policy aims to reduce misconduct among citizens and reduce excessive force among officers.

Several aldermen raised concerns about the implications of body-worn cameras for residents’ privacy.

The North Carolina one-party consent law would not require officers to inform citizens that their interactions would be recorded. The current body-worn camera policy draft does not require officers to tell residents that they are being recorded.

Brook said the ACLU recommends the finalized policy require this procedure, with exceptions for undercover police work.

Alderwoman Randee Haven-O’Donnell said this requirement is comparable to requiring police to read Miranda rights.

“There is a fine line between protection and surveillance — it’s something that we have to monitor very carefully,” she said.

Horton said the Carrboro Police Department hopes to purchase 41 cameras.

James Bryan, a district court judge in Orange and Chatham counties, said only quality video documentation is valuable evidence.

“My one encouragement is to consider the quality of these cameras,” he said. “The cameras will be (high-definition), the same quality as our in-car cameras.”

The aldermen will review a finalized policy in June.

Alderwoman Michelle Johnson said the cameras will not be the end of the conversation.

“Body cameras won’t address the issues of policing and racial profiling,” she said.

city@dailytarheel.com

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