A majority of N.C. voters think that footage from police video cameras should be made available to the public, according to a new poll.
The release of such video has become a matter of much debate in North Carolina following last month’s fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in University City. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department eventually released portions of the video captured by a police body camera and dash camera, but only after loud public outcry.
A new state law enacted on Oct. 1 prevents police agencies from releasing body camera footage to the public without a court order.
In the new Elon University poll, 58 percent of those who responded said all police camera footage should be public, while 36 percent said police should be able to restrict the release of videos. Six percent said they didn’t know.
The poll did not show a clear consensus on the question of whether police treat suspects differently based on race. Forty-four percent of those polled said they believe police treat blacks worse than whites, while 42 percent said they believe police treat blacks the same as whites. Two percent said they believe police treat blacks better than whites.
Black and white voters tended to have widely divergent views on this question. Among black respondents, 82 percent said police treat them worse than whites. Only 33 percent of white respondents held that view.
Fifty-seven percent of those polled said they approved of the way police handled the unrest in Charlotte that followed Scott’s death. Twenty-seven percent said they disapproved and most of the rest said they didn’t know.
Most of those polled said that protests following police shootings do more harm than good. Just 27 percent of those polled said they believe that such protests would lead to positive change, while 59 percent said that protests would make matters worse.
The poll of 660 likely North Carolina voters was conducted Sept. 27-30. The margin of error is 3.81 percent.