State Lawmakers Want Dash Cam Video Included in Open Records
By Dave Jordan, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- State lawmakers are working to change the process by which the department of public safety releases dash camera video.
The Department of Public Safety initially said cell phone video of the fight between first responders last May didn't tell the whole story. Yet, officials refused to release the dash camera video that did.
DPS claimed the dash cam footage wasn't covered under the Open Records Act, but after pressure from lawmakers and the media, it did release the video.
"DPS' approach obviously hasn't been the most open. In fact, it's been inconsistent and haphazard at times," said State Representative Randy Terrill.
Terrill is now working on a bill that would amend the Open Records Act to include dash camera audio and video.
According to Terrill's bill, exceptions would "include internal communication, information including potential evidence, and obscene pictures including but not limited to death, mutilation and disfigurement."
"It's a perfect opportunity for the legislature to step in and provide some clarity and consistency and we intend to do that by clarifying that the audio and video requests are in fact an open record," Terrill said.
Democratic Senator Jim Wilson of Tahlequah wrote Senate Bill 1252 which covers similar ground.
In a statement Wilson cited the "May 24 altercation between Oklahoma Highway Patrolman Daniel Martin and Paramedic Maurice White as one example of why the media and public should have access to officers' dash cam videos.".
Representative Mike Christian sits on the public safety subcommittee but he has also been in the driver's seat for DPS. He is supporting the measure.
"As a retired state trooper, I think it's a great tool for law enforcement, but also I think there's certain areas where the public has a right to know," Christian said. "They probably should have been a little quicker to release those tapes."
And ironically, OHP, whose actions triggered this legislation, is also on board.
"We want to be transparent. We're a transparent agency. We want the public involved in what we do," said OHP Lt. George Brown.
Both Representative Terrill and Senator Wilson said they are planning to introduce their bills in the next legislative session.
DPS is also working with the Oklahoma Press Association and other print media outlet on this matter.
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