OKLAHOMA CITY — A bill that would close the Oklahoma Highway Patrol dash cam video “loophole” has passed out of committee.
SB 1513 passed out of legislative committee Wednesday by an overwhelming 15 to 1 vote.
Transparency proponents are calling it a victory for open government.
NewsChannel 4 first told you about the “Trooper Loophole” last year.
In Oklahoma, every law enforcement agency is subject to the state Open Records Act, except the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
The Department of Public Safety lobbied for a special exemption to the Open Records Act back in 2005.
Because of the “Trooper Loophole” the OHP does not have to comply with the requests for video and audio under the Open Records Act.
Holt wants to remove the “Trooper Loophole” so OHP has to provide dash cam videos to the media and the public just like every other law enforcement agency in Oklahoma.
Fifteen Senators voted in favor of the measure.
But, the real shocker of the day was the support of the Department of Public Safety.
Yes, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol is publicly supporting SB 1513.
According to OHP Major Rusty Rhoades, DPS Commissioner Michael Thompson has always been a supporter of transparency.
“There’s a reason we dress like we do and drive the cars we do. People know who we are. They know what we do. We have that responsibility to the public as well to ensure everybody knows that we’re doing things the way they’re supposed to be done.” said Maj. Rhoades.
Since he first authored the bill, Senator David Holt has added some noteworthy exemptions, which will apply to all law enforcement agencies, if passed.
The exemptions include portions of video showing: nudity, minors, incidents involving fatalities and the identities of officers under investigation.
“This is a great victory for transparency. 15 to 1. I commend Chairman Griffin for hearing the bill. I commend the 15 legislators for voting for it. I think it really shows our legislature’s commitment to transparency and I commend DPS led by Major Rhoades for coming out in favor of the bill. I think we’re entering a new era of transparency.” said Holt.
“No one is more interested in our people doing what they’re supposed to be doing than we are.” Maj. Rhoades said. “We have a tradition and a level of responsibility to the people of this state to uphold. We want to ensure to everybody we’re doing exactly that.”
The next step for SB 1513 is a vote on the Senate floor.