By David Bass
An omnibus criminal justice reform bill is on the verge of heading to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk after clearing the N.C. House in a nearly unanimous 100-2 vote on Wednesday, Aug. 18.
The measure — Senate Bill 300 — now heads back to the Senate for a concurrence vote. The Senate unanimously passed its version of the bill May 12.
The final version of S.B. 300 is a departure from earlier iterations that increased penalties for rioting or inciting a riot. Instead, lawmakers are running those provisions in a separate measure, House Bill 805, which is pending in the Senate Rules Committee.
Among other changes outlined in the bill summary, S.B. 300 would:
Create a public database of law enforcement officers’ suspensions and revocations.
Provide a process to have all LEO fingerprints entered into state and federal databases.
Require that LEOs receive training on mental health wellness strategies and require periodic psychological screenings.
Require law enforcement agencies to create an early warning system to monitor officer actions and behaviors, including discharge of a firearm, use of force, vehicle collisions, and citizen complaints.
Create a duty for LEOs to intervene and report excessive use of force by a colleague.
Raise penalties for resisting an officer if the proximate cause of serious injury to the officer is that resistance.
Direct the creation of public service announcements and social media campaigns on how to interact lawfully with law enforcement.
Revise bodycam footage release laws to allow quicker access to footage after a violent or deadly incident.
Under the bill, family members or representatives of a defendant may request footage from a law enforcement agency and that agency must respond within three business days. A judge will then review the video and decide within seven business days if it should be released. If a determination is made that the footage must be protected due to an ongoing investigation, that determination would be reviewed again within 20 business days.