Body Camera Video Is Now Available to the Public in Oklahoma

Body Camera Video Is Now Available to the Public in Oklahoma
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Police officers in Miami, OK have been using body cameras for about a year. But when to release that footage to the public used to be a blurred line

“Before this legislation it was not clear what we had to do with body cameras. So if I’m an officer and I get a 911 camera and I’m wearing a body camera and i go into a house and it’s a domestic violence, it wouldn’t have been clear if we had to release that,” says Ottawa & Delaware County District Attorney Kenny Wright.

Now that governor Fallin has passed a law that allows the public to access the footage, Sergeant Jason Arnold hopes it will boost law enforcements overall perception.

“I do. Many times people have their perceptions of what they think happened and once the video is released it’ll show an accurate video of what happened,” says Arnold.

Officers routinely use body cameras to review their work and with this new law the public now has the same opportunity to keep them accountable, seeing things from their point of view.

“Many times when word gets around town it can sometimes get skewed. People add to or take away from it the actual details of the incident. It’ll create a better more accurate picture of what happened.”

The law puts in place many restrictions of when the video can be used.

“Probably maybe a little more than fifty percent because of the stipulations that restricts us by law,” says Arnold.

Video that depicts nudity, minors, domestic violence victims, and medical information would be withheld or blurred in some cases. Any personal information collected, such as addresses collected at a traffic stop, would be muted.

To meet these demands, it’s going to require extra effort on the behalf of law enforcement.

“Some of the larger law enforcement agencies may be required to hire some additional personal to meet the requirements of the disclosures here. Because not only do they have to copy it, but they’re going to have to go in and edit and obscure parts of and that’s going to take a pretty significant amount of time,” says Wright.

Body camera footage would be treated like any other open records request. Releasing video will cost a small fee determined individually by each agency.