The Norman Transcript

Opinion

November 3, 2013

Ruling a victory for public’s right to know

NORMAN — By refusing to hear an appeal, the Oklahoma Supreme Court last week let stand an earlier ruling by a lower court declaring that dash-cam videos indeed are a public record in Oklahoma.

The unanimous affirmation by nine justices of the May 31 ruling by the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals is a clear victory for the public’s right to know and transparency of government.

The case involved police video records from a 2011 arrest. Richard Strangland claimed that Claremore police violated the Open Records Act by refusing to provide requested videotapes and audiotapes of his arrest.

The battle came down to whether audiotapes and videotapes are covered by the state Open Records Act as Strangland’s attorney argued or whether the tapes are evidentiary and subject to the privilege of confidentiality as the city of Claremore argued.

A state court judge sided with the city but the intermediate court of appeals saw it differently, and the Supreme Court decision allows that to stand.

The decision is a victory for the public’s right to know or in this case, the public’s right to see and hear.

The public pays for dashcam videotapes. Cameras (recording videotapes) are mounted on law enforcement vehicles for a purpose: to capture an impartial record of what transpires during a traffic stop.

Law enforcement ought to be celebrating this ruling. If officers are doing their jobs, then what better record of that performance than the dashcam videotape?

— Tulsa World

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