The Carrboro Board of Aldermen held a public hearing Tuesday night on the implementation of body-worn cameras by the Carrboro Police Department.
The board also heard presentations on the Orange County 2017 property revaluation results, a review of facility conditions within the town, and an amendment to town code on keeping residential chickens and rabbits.
A body camera policy aimed at improving transparency and accountability within the police department has been in the works in Carrboro for the past two years. Members of the town, police department, the Board of Aldermen, the ACLU and police attorneys have worked on the policy.
Body camera footage will be helpful to officers in writing their reports, Carrboro Police Chief Walter Horton said, but in instances of officer-involved shootings, an officer can’t view the video until they make a written statement.
“We have a solid policy, and we’ve worked on it very hard,” Horton said. “There’s no way to capture everything in this policy, but we’ve done a great job.”
The policy stipulates that the person must be notified that they are being recorded, the recording cannot end until the incident ends, and the footage will be disclosed to subjects in the video if requested. The cameras are also not to be used for surveillance purposes.
“We want to disclose footage whenever we’re asked to disclose unless there’s a really strong reason why we shouldn’t,” Board of Aldermen member Damon Seils said.
While most of the board approved of the policy, Board of Aldermen member Sammy Slade said he had some concerns.
He said he does not agree with the recent N.C. General Assembly statute which states that body camera and dashboard footage are not public record.
“I feel like we’ve done a lot of good work on this policy, but I don’t feel we have a policy because of the local work, but the state work that’s been thrown at us,” Slade said.
Board of Aldermen member Bethany Chaney requested that Horton return a year after implementation of the body cameras to update the board on the policy’s effects.
She said she’s interested in the training value of the footage, the number of disclosure requests the department receives, and any outcomes that might have changed because of the footage.
The board also discussed amending the town code with regard to livestock provisions for chickens and rabbits.
Chickens will continue to be allowed, but residents will be required to have at least three birds due to their social nature.
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