The public is entitled to see virtually all Ohio police dash-cam recordings. the Ohio Supreme Court ruled 7-0, reports the Columbus Dispatch. The court rejected the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s attempt to keep all such recordings secret, even those pointed at an empty back seat or the median of an interstate highway. In its first ruling on dash-cam videos, the justices allowed a “narrow exception” for law enforcement to keep secret only “investigatory work product.” Illustrating how small that exemption is, the court found that only 90 seconds of the hour-plus of recordings from three dash-cams that were presented in the case could legally be withheld from the public.
In future cases, whether a video should be made public must be decided individually, said Justice Judith French. “In the end, we hold that decisions about whether an exception to public-records disclosure applies to dash-cam recordings require a case-by-case review to determine whether the requested recordings contain investigative work product,” she wrote. “A record that merely pertains to a law-enforcement matter does not constitute a confidential law-enforcement investigatory record unless the release of the record would create a high probability of disclosure of specific investigatory work product.” The justices determined that the State Highway Patrol acted improperly by denying a request by the Cincinnati Enquirer for the video of a 2015 police chase that ended in a wreck. The patrol finally handed over the video two months after the driver was convicted of fleeing and eluding law enforcement and other crimes.