EDMOND, Okla. – We are following-up on an issue we first brought to light in a NewsChannel 4 investigation Monday night.
After the Patrol lost an Open Records case in court and had to pay attorneys fees for their non-compliance, the agency lobbied for an exemption to the law at the State Capitol.
The exemption, authored by Oklahoma State Sen. Jay Paul Gumm and Oklahoma State Rep. John Carey, sailed through the legislature in 2005.
The Department of Public Safety and the OHP now have a free-pass from compliance with several areas of the Oklahoma Open Records Act, including an exemption for dash cam video.
In the course of our investigation, we requested dash camera video from another metro police department.
Last month, the state’s highest court ruled with clarity on the issue of police dash camera video.
In the court opinion the justices declare dash cam video is the “facts concerning the arrest” and “a public record subject to inspection under the Open Records Act.”
Attorney Stephen Fabian won the 2005 case against the OHP years ago, which prompted the department to lobby the legislature for an exemption to the Open Records Act.
Because of NewsChannel 4’s investigation, state legislators David Holt and Jason Murphey have agreed to write a new law, removing the OHP exemption.
Holt said, “I think it’s outrageous. I think if we as taxpayers are going to pay for dash board cams then we ought to be able to see the results of them.”
Oklahoma City police do not provide dash cam video because they don’t have any.
The department tells us their squad cars are not equipped with dash cams because of the expense.
In Edmond, all of their patrol units, more than 70 units, have cameras mounted in the dash board.
The official department policy is Edmond police officials will provide dash cam video when requested and when all investigations are complete.
While that may be the official policy, it has been more than 10 years since the department last released dash cam video.
That changed this week, when Edmond police released requested dash cam video of the tornado that touched down near I-35 on May 19.
Jenny Monroe, spokesperson for the Edmond Police Department, said, “We review our policy regularly. This is one we reviewed in 2011. It’s working out for us. We just honestly don’t get many requests for dash cam video.”
Edmond released the video within 24 hours of our request.