OK Lawmakers Consider Bill To Make OHP Video Open Record

In Oklahoma, law enforcement dashboard video is public record at every agency except one -- The Oklahoma Highway Patrol. However, a new effort in the Oklahoma State Senate may force troopers to start releasing dash cam video.

For nearly a decade, OHP has been protected by state law, which allows the agency to be secretive and hide dash cam video. OHP admits it will not give up dash cam video unless it is forced to do so. In rare instances, the agency has released video only after long battles with media organizations and public outcry.

On Wednesday, the agency told News 9 it is welcoming the proposed change and lawmakers are taking notice.

"I don't think that this is going to blow the top off their agency when these videos are revealed," Sen. David Holt said.

Holt, a champion for transparency, is sponsoring a bill to make OHP dash cam video public record. The bill sailed through a Senate committee hearing Wednesday with overwhelming support. Holt says the bill has the momentum to reach the governor's desk.

"No one is more interested in our people doing what they're supposed to do than we are," said OHP Maj. Rusty Rhoades.

Rhoades says OHP today is different than it was a decade ago when the agency lobbied to be the exception to the open records law.

"There is a sense of surprise that DPS is so supportive of this [bill]," Rhoades said.

Although OHP says it supports the bill, the agency still refuses to release dash cam video. In roughly four months, OHP may not have a choice.

"We get to see that the authority we've bestowed upon law enforcement officers is being used appropriately and ... 99 out of 100, it is," Holt said.

If the bill becomes law as is, OHP will be allowed to modify video in certain cases that include nudity, fatalities, minors or officers under investigation.

The bill will now move to the Senate floor.