House committee approves bill removing Open Records Act exemption for Oklahoma Highway Patrol dash cam recordings

No law enforcement recordings would be exempted under a House bill approved unanimously by a  committee Thursday. HB 2676, sponsored by Ken Walker, R-Tulsa, would remove an Open Records Act exemption for Oklahoma Highway Patrol dash cam recordings.

But unlike its Senate counterpart, HB 2676 would not create exemptions for portions of all other law enforcement recordings.

The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals ruled in May that a police dash cam video of a DUI arrest contained facts concerning the arrest and therefore was public under the state Open Records Act.

But legislators had exempted the state Department of Public Safety’s audio and video recordings in 2005 at the request of DPS and the Highway Patrol. (OKLA. STAT. tit. 51, § 24A.3(1)(h)(3))

Members of the House Committee on Government Modernization voted 8-0 Thursday to remove that exemption. Voting for the bill were Reps. David Derby, R-Owasso; Elise Hall, R-Oklahoma City; Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City; Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie; Jason Smalley, R-Stroud; Mike Turner, R-Oklahoma City; Walker; and Justin F. Wood, R-Shawnee.

Murphey is committee chairman and a member of FOI Oklahoma’s board of directors.

SB 1513 would go further than the House bill by adding audio and video from all law enforcement vehicles and officers to the list of records that must be made public.

Under the Senate bill, law enforcement agencies would be allowed to “redact or obscure specific portions of the recording which depict the death of a person or a dead body, depict any person who is nude or identify minors under the age of sixteen (16) years.”

Agencies also could “redact or obscure specific portions of … recordings depicting law enforcement officers who become subject to internal investigation by the law enforcement agency….”  The full recording would become public “at the conclusion of the investigation and disciplinary process.”

That bill, sponsored by Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, passed the Senate Committee on Rules by a 15-1 vote on Feb. 12.

Voting for the bill were Don Barrington, R-Lawton; Rick Brinkley, R-Owasso; Eddie Fields, R-Wynona; John Ford, R-Bartlesville; AJ Griffin, R-Guthrie; Jim Halligan, R-Stillwater; Clark Jolley, R-Edmond; Rob Johnson, R-Kingfisher; Ron Justice, R-Chickasha; Bryce Marlatt, R-Woodward; Jabar Shumate, D-Tulsa; Frank Simpson, R-Springer; John Sparks, D-Norman; Rob Standridge, R-Norman; and Gary Stanislawski, R-Tulsa.

Kim David, R-Porter, cast the lone vote against the bill.


Joey Senat, Ph.D. Associate Professor OSU School of Media & Strategic Communications

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.