Elizabethtown police officers issued body-worn cameras

By: Staff report

ELIZABETHTOWN —Smile, you’re on camera, if interacting with the Elizabethtown Police Department.

One of the goals of the Elizabethtown Police Department, according to a press release, is to “promote transparency and accountability within the community.” Earlier this month, the department became the first law enforcement agency in Bladen County to implement body-worn cameras. Purchased with a 50/50 grant, the devices will be worn by all uniformed members of the patrol division.

“With enhanced technology, body-worn cameras are both useful and necessary for informing and maintaining public confidence and trust,” the press release reads. “Body-worn cameras enable officers to record situations that occur in most any environment and provide the best opportunity of capturing the entirety of an incident. It also enables the Police Department to preserve and present video evidence, as well as address any concerns with factual information.”

Cameras are being issued to all patrol division uniformed officers during the month of June, and the Department plans to have all cameras implemented and operational by Aug. 1, after all officers have been trained.

What is Recorded?

Elizabethtown police officers are required to record interactions using their body-worn camera when responding to calls for service and conducting proactive policing activities (i.e. vehicle stops). Police are not required to record the entire time they are at work, being exempt at such times as meal breaks, routine patrol, or during casual conversations with members of the public.

Who Can View the Video?

N.C.G.S. § 132-1.4 A (c) regulates who is allowed to watch video recordings made with police body-worn cameras. Typically, anyone on the video from an officer’s body-worn camera would be allowed to watch the video. There are other specifics about who is legally allowed to watch these videos.

How to Request to View the Video

By state law, a request to watch recordings from a body-worn camera must be approved by the Chief of Police or his designee. The police officer who made the recording cannot show the video.

To see the video, a request must be made in writing. This can be done at the Police Department or by downloading the form from the Department website (www.etownpdnc.com) and returning the same to the Department, either in person, or by mail, fax or email. Within three working days of the submission of a request, the chief’s designee will contact the petitioner with permission or denial, as well as instructions on how to proceed.

For additional information, contact Chief Anthony Parrish at 910-862-3125.

Staff report