(QUEEN CITY NEWS) – It’s often the first question asked after an officer fires their gun. Is there video?

But if you’re in North or South Carolina, chances are you won’t get to see it thanks to state laws that classify body camera footage as evidence and not as public record.

It’s something that’s often seen on TV- crime scene tape and police cars. But what’s not often seen is the body camera footage, or the dash camera footage, of how everything went down.

“I appreciate the process, but the process is flawed,” said Robert Dawkins, with ActionNC.

Dawkins has been to court in North Carolina a handful of times.  He said it’s a complicated and particular process, filing a request to see what the police see.

“There shouldn’t be this burden for the people that we paid to keep us safe to see their video,” said Dawkins.

It’s all about video. As a member of the media, we are often placed in an area slightly away from a crime scene. But to get any video of what happened, whether it’s from a body camera or a dash camera, takes lawyers, time, and money.

“Our point is, there’s no right to anonymity if you are a police officer,” said Dawkins.

North Carolina officials passed a law back in 2016 that set a statewide standard. According to that law, any body camera footage from a police officer has to be released by a judge, not by a police department. According to that law, certain family members or those representing the involved can view the video, but they can’t release it to the public.  For that video to be released, there has to be a “compelling public interest.”

“That is a matter for the court, it’s evidence. Evidence has always been a matter for the court, and it should always be a matter for the court,” said Rep. Allen McNeill, who helped create the North Carolina law.

“I don’t think the law shields anything, body camera footage is body camera footage. It’s going to be there unless somebody destroys it,” said McNeill.

It’s a little easier across the border in South Carolina, where you can file a request to get dash camera footage. But, under no circumstances is body camera footage available unless the recording party chooses to release it.

“So, the police car we pay for, the uniform we pay for, the badge we pay for, the video that’s collected is paid for, so that should be in the public domain,” said Dawkins.

He said the police are public servants, paid for by public dollars, so it all should be public.