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Greensboro City Council 2017 legislative agenda includes body worn camera policy

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Greensboro City Council met during a special work session last week to discuss the first draft of the city’s 2017 legislative agenda.

Chief among the council’s concerns were amendments to HB 972, a controversial bill governing access to police body-camera footage, age for juvenile jurisdiction and in-state tuition for undocumented students.

Tom Carruthers, City Attorney, said there are ongoing conversations with other cities in the state concerning HB 972 and that the priorities outlined in the legislative agenda are to allow city council to access and release footage and to allow the Police Community Relations Board to view footage.

Councilmember Mike Barber said he was concerned about appearing to confront the legislature on this issue and recommended discussing the matter with them before putting anything forward.

“I dont wanna send anything to this legislature that is going to shine a spotlight on Greensboro and that we are antagonistic, I wanna avoid that at all costs because we have already been down that road.” Barber said

Mayor Nancy Vaughan said there are already conversations regarding the bill in the legislature and said that an invitation should be extended to meet with members of the legislature in January during their legislative session.

Council also added an item that would support in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants.

“I do want to say, I know it may sound like a hot-button issue, but I did speak to the superintendent of Guilford County Schools and her comment was that no matter what you believe about immigration or any laws therein that these kids have spent their whole lives in our public schools,” Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said.

Barber said he wanted to see language stipulating that they have begun the immigration process.

Mayor Vaughan said that most of these students are not 18 and could not have begun the formal immigration process.

“I think we have to acknowledge the immigration process or this is going to be DOA, it’s making a stand versus effectively having a shot at it,” Barber said.

Council decided to let staff work on language to that effect.

Jennifer Schneier, Assistant City Attorney, said the council is also considering joining an effort by many groups to raise the age for juvenile jurisdiction following a commission chaired by NC Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Morgan finding overwhelmingly that this would be a positive step.

North Carolina and New York are the only states that treat 16 and 17 year olds as adults, which Schneier said disqualifies the state from receiving some federal aid.

“When we talk about what’s a better way that we can do something for our young people and not continue to lock up our future, I think this would get us to the right benchmark and I’m glad that Chief Justice Martin is actually looking into this,” Councilmember Jamal Fox said.

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