Bill would release officer records, make rioting a felony

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)- New legislation in the North Carolina Senate could shake up how law enforcement agencies across the state report their officer-involved incidents.

Senate Bill 300 would streamline a database across all agencies, whether it’s college campus police or a county sheriff’s office. The database would hold all the reports of officer misconduct and use of force incidents.

Right now, when an officer gets reported for doing something wrong–whether it’s unnecessary use of force or something smaller–it gets filed within that agency’s personal database. But what happens when an officer applies for a new job with another agency a few towns away?

“There’s, there’s no database where that agency, that next agency that he goes to can pull that information from where he worked before to find out that he’s had those use of force incidents before,” NC Senator Danny Earl Britt Jr. said.

Currently, that new agency would have no idea of that officer’s history and that’s what Senate Bill 300 aims to change.

“Maybe it’s serious, maybe it’s not, but that information is then stuck in a personnel file. That person then applies in another agency. There’s, there’s no database where that agency that next agency that he goes to, can pull that information from where he worked before, to find out that he’s had those user forces before.”

Although the future database would have no public access, it would change the game for law enforcement trying to weed out bad apples.

Another part of S.B. 300 would make rioting a felony charge, but Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden says it’s a tricky situation.

“But then can you be inside of a riot? And protest peacefully? That’s the question, that ‘what can I be among the crowd?’” McFadden said. “And that’s, that’s the problem that we have are the same: What is it and what is not?”

NC State Senator Danny Britt said he thinks law enforcement should be able to use their best judgment when making that decision.

“Folks are oftentimes charged simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. So is it possible that can happen I would say yes, just like with any crime,” Senator Britt said.

Senate Bill 300 has been in the works since the beginning of this week and Britt says will continue to get tweaked with help from the Sheriff’s Association and the Benevolent Association.

The bill will be in the Senate Judiciary Committee next week. If it is approved there it will go to Senate rules committee and, if approved there, it will make it to the floor.

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