Oklahoma Highway Patrol dash cams eyed for public access

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 4/21/2014

Time is running out for a bill that would remove a loophole for state troopers in the Oklahoma Open Records Act.

Oklahoma law requires local police and sheriff’s departments to make audio and video recordings available to open records requests. However, since 2005 the Highway Patrol has been exempt from the requirement for dash cams.

Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, said “it’s not right” to give troopers special treatment.

“We as taxpayers pay for these dash cams to keep (law enforcement) accountable. We ought to have access to that,” Holt said in prepared remarks.

A Senate-approved bill would ensure dash-cam video recorded by state troopers would be included in the state’s open records law.

Holt, the bill’s Senate sponsor, noted that the Highway Patrol supports the change.

“I believe these recordings will show that, overwhelmingly, they are doing their job as they should,” Holt said. “But if they are not, the public has a right to know.”

Critics of the bill include some attorneys. They cite concerns about a provision in the bill that provides an exemption for investigations into officer misconduct.

The bill awaits further consideration in the House. SB1513 must advance from the chamber before a Thursday, April 24, deadline.

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