The Importance of Being Videoed

It’s tempting to rush to judgment when we see video of a man dying in police custody. And so let’s try really hard not to do that in the case of Eric Garner, the New York man who died in a confrontation with NYPD officers over his allegedly selling illegal cigarettes. But let’s be glad we can see the video. As citizens, it’s important to be able to see our government in action, so we can make informed decisions.

_x000D_ So I was disappointed by a recent Ohio appellate court decision finding that dash cam video recorded by the Ohio State Highway Patrol is an “investigatory record” and exempt from the Ohio Public Records Act. According to the 12th Appellate District’s decision release of the video could disclose “confidential investigatory techniques.” Of course, the dash cam comes on no matter what the trooper is doing – whether helping a motorist with a flat tire or stopping a speeder. The point is, the dash cam video is not reserved as a tool for criminal investigations. So it’s not part of an investigation.

_x000D_ And even if it were, what “confidential investigatory technique” does it disclose? Is “could I see your license and registration” really a big secret? I think not. And I really think it’s tough to see how the dash cam video constitutes some sort of secret when the Ohio State Highway Patrol maintains its own YouTube channel where it posts videos like this: 

_x000D_ Are you scratching your head yet?  I am.