open records

ACLU of Oklahoma legal director Brady Henderson during a Nov. 9, 2015 press conference, with executive director Ryan Kiesel in the background.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma brought a lawsuit against Gov. Mary Fallin Monday over delays in responding to open records requests.


Oklahoma City's police chief says new guidelines outlining the types of video footage open for public records will pave the way for the use of body cameras in Oklahoma's largest city.

The new law permits the release of body camera videos but allows certain exemptions. Videos containing death are exempt from release, unless the death was caused by law enforcement.

A bill to restrict the public's access to police videos from dashboard and body cameras passed the Oklahoma state Senate and is headed to the governor's desk.

The Senate voted 44-2 on Thursday for the bill that adds dozens of new exemptions to the state's Open Records Act for law enforcement entities.

Under the bill, police and sheriffs will be allowed to withhold from the public videos that depict deaths or acts of violence, unless such acts were committed by a law enforcement officer.

Oklahoma Capitol Building
ana branca / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma Senate has approved Open Records Act legislation that would limit access by the public and media to audio and video recordings obtained from equipment attached to a law enforcement officer or vehicle.

The Senate voted 46-0 for the House-passed bill Tuesday and sent it to a joint House-Senate conference committee for more work. Its Senate author, Republican Sen. David Holt of Bethany, says lawmakers are working with law enforcement and media representatives to fashion the bill's final form.

Fallin’s Office Didn’t Release Records Sought in Past 11 Months

Mar 15, 2015
Gov. Mary Fallin and other state leaders observe a PowerPoint presentation of revenue projections.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Until Friday, Gov. Mary Fallin’s office had not released records requested in the previous 11 months by members of the news media and other groups, according to her office’s catalog of Open Records Act requests.

Oklahoma State Senator David Holt, R-Oklahoma City.

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."

University of Oklahoma parking ticket
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

University of Oklahoma President David Boren says the school will now release university parking ticket records after a student filed a federal lawsuit seeking the information.

Journalism student Joey Stipek sued the university in 2013 after he was denied parking ticket records for a story in The Oklahoma Daily. The paper explained its rationale for joining the lawsuit in a Wednesday editorial:

Dash cameras
Fernost / Creative Commons

New legislation that took effect Nov. 1 requires audio and video recordings attached to law enforcement or law enforcement vehicles to be made available to the public for inspection and copying.

HB2676, by Rep. Ken Walker and Sen. David Holt, previously exempted the Department of Public Safety (DPS) from releasing any audio or video recordings.

All other law enforcement agencies were subject to the same policy that required the release of information when requested.

Gov. Mary Fallin has released 31 documents that her administration previously withheld involving her administration's decision to reject a state health insurance exchange under the federal health care law.

Fallin said in a statement that even though a judge ruled she could withhold certain emails, she decided to waive that right because she is "committed to transparency."

An Oklahoma County judge has rejected a request to reconsider a ruling that says Gov. Mary Fallin has the legal right to withhold documents requested by news organizations under Oklahoma's Open Records Act.

Quinton Gentry, a clerk for District Judge Barbara Swinton, says the judge Thursday denied a reconsideration motion filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma.