Friday, October 9, 2009
OHP slow to release incident report of a traffic stop in which troopers are accused of behaving improperly
The Tulsa World requested on Monday but had not received by late Thursday the incident report dealing with a weekend arrest that led to two state troopers being placed on paid administrative leave, the newspaper reported today.
The newspaper also hadn't received requested copies of the complaint filed against the troopers and the videotapes taken from the dashboard cameras on the troopers' cars.
Police incident reports are public information under the state Open Records Act. (OKLA. STAT. tit. 51, § 24A.8)
The Tulsa World reported having being told by Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. Chris West that the incident report and complaint record might be released Thursday. They weren't.
The good news: West said OHP will release copies of the videotape to reporters when investigators are through with them. Thanks to state legislators, OHP dashcam videos have been exempted from the state Open Records Act since 2005.
Access to OHP dashcam videos became news in June after a scuffle between a trooper and a Creek Nation paramedic. After repeatedly refusing to do so, OHP officials released the video, saying "it was in the best interest of the public" to do so. By that time, a cell phone video of the incident had been posted on YouTube.
The OHP trooper involved in that scuffle is one of the two troopers placed on administrative leave pending an internal affairs probe into the arrest on Saturday in Holdenville.
Joey Senat, Ph.D.
OSU School of Journalism