Law enforcement groups want ultimate say on body cam use

- Law enforcement groups are asking state legislators not to mandate how, when, and if they should use body cameras. They want that decision to be made within their departments. 

Local sheriff's office, like Gaston County, said they do support the use of body cameras. They said they're just split on the issue when it comes to finding funding. 

FOX46 reached out to several departments and the Lincoln County Sheriff and Gaston County Sheriff both take the same stance. 

"Just to say you got to have them may be the wrong way to go," said Sheriff Alan Cloninger. 

Sheriff Cloninger agrees with what the N.C. Sheriff's Association and N.C. Association of the Chiefs of Police did at a meeting with the General Assembly. 

Some members do not want body cameras to be a statewide requirement, saying local law enforcement agencies should decide that on their own. 

"The need for body worn cameras is not universally agreed upon. There are some pros to having the cameras. There are some cons to having the cameras," said Eddie Caldwell. 

Local community leaders told FOX46 they believe that body cameras should be required statewide. 

"I think that it needs to be mandated that way it's equal across the board. There's no question. It doesn't leave any room for error," Will Adams said. 

CMPD has had body cameras for one year now. The police chief recently said the cameras were able to assist the department in an investigation last week when an officer was caught in a video punching a suspect. 

Sheriff Cloninger said it's one thing to require the cameras, but the big question is where will the funding come from. 

"How much money it's going to cost. How much it's going to cost to maintain the records," Sheriff Cloninger explained. 

He said the department is testing out four different kinds of body cameras, but he said he has something more valuable than that.

"The integrity of the officers. The men and women is one of the most necessary things we have," Sheriff Cloninger said. 

The Sheriff's Association believes this conversation is far from over, stating as long as body cameras are funded on a local level this should be a local decision.

 

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