Oklahoma police dash cams are considered open records, yet Oklahoma Highway Patrol dash cams are not. Why is that? All of Oklahoma’s law enforcement dash cams should be open record.
You can thank the 2006 Oklahoma Legislature for passing a bill that exempted OHP dash cam videos from being subject to Open Record Laws, even though there’s no good reason for such an action.
Sen. David Holt, a Republican from Oklahoma City, said he plans to file a bill this legislative session to make OHP dash cam videos open records. Another legislator, Sen. Wayne Shaw of Grove, has the opposite idea. He wants to make all local police dash cam videos exempt from Open Records laws.
Luckily, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals agrees with Holt. In 2013, the courts said dash cam videos are considered public under the Open Records Act. Although opponents appealed that decision, the Oklahoma Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal.
That’s a clear sign to me that the Supreme Court agreed that dash cam videos should remain open to the taxpayers.
Besides, dash cams are designed to be helpful and protect law enforcement officers. If a suspect claims abuse from an OHP officer, that dash cam video can show that the officer was innocent.
The videos also hold law enforcement to be accountable if improper actions occurred.
Nevertheless, we as citizens should have the right to request and have access to those dash cam videos. It’s our right under the Open Records Act, and truly, there’s no need for those videos to be exempt.
They are there for our protection, and the protection of our law enforcement officers too.
Call us today at (405) 301-8586 if you find yourself in need of a criminal attorney or any other defense against improper law enforcement.
UPDATE: Senator Holt’s bill (HB 2676, co-authored by Rep. Ken Walker) passed both houses of the Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Fallin this month. For more information, see this story from The Daily Ardmoreite.