Public and media access to police footage from cameras worn by officers or in their patrol cars has led to a clash over Oklahoma's Open Records Act as police and prosecutors seek to limit what kinds of videos are publicly released.
Advocates for more government openness raised concerns after a bill in a House committee was amended to gut a law that allows the public to access government records.
Rep. Mike Christian, a former Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper and the committee's chairman, acknowledged his amendment went too far and says he will work with prosecutors, police and the press on a compromise.
Meanwhile, freshman Democratic Rep. Claudia Griffith, who authored the original bill, said she would not bring it to her colleagues without a major rewrite.
"In no way will I let it be heard on the House floor in this way," said Griffith, D-Norman. Her original bill would have let police hold back videos from dashboard cameras and other records that might be used as evidence in criminal trials.
At issue now is how much access the media and public should have to police videos. In a letter to police chiefs across the state, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater urged departments not to outfit their officers with body-worn video cameras until the Open Records Act can be changed.
"My biggest concern is to protect law enforcement officers, victims, witnesses and the integrity of law enforcement investigations," Prater said. "There is a lot of privacy interests involved here."