by Billy Ball
State lawmakers made a modest splash on the subject during Thursday's marathon budget talks in the state House, allotting $5 million in grant funding over the next two years for body cameras and the requisite training.
It's a matching grant, so local and county law enforcement agencies will have to offer up $2 of local funds for every $1 of state dollars. The amendment—proposed by Rep. Edward Hanes Jr., D-Forsyth, and Rep. Charles Jeter, R-Mecklenburg—passed 109-2. Just two Republicans from western North Carolina voted against the amendment.
“We’ve had some truly horrific incidents over the last few years that have left our nation looking for answers," said Jeter in a statement. "This was an opportunity to protect law enforcement and community relationships and we took that opportunity."
The amendment echoes a national trend. Spurred by a number of controversial police shootings, President Obama announced a plan in December to provide $75 million for equipping police officers with body cameras. This week, the ACLU of N.C. announced the release of a free smart phone application which can be used to record police interactions and report any wrongdoing.
Advocates say body cameras will make police more accountable, although some say the biggest change will be that it may only make it easier to obtain convictions.