Newspaper sues for trooper's dash-cam video

From The Columbus Dispatch In a case involving the State Highway Patrol, The Cincinnati Enquirer is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to declare that police dash-cam videos are public records.

The newspaper claims that the Ohio Department of Public Safety and Director John Born illegally failed to release video captured by a trooper’s dash camera during a Jan. 22 pursuit of a fleeing suspect on I-71 in Warren and Hamilton counties.

The patrol claimed that a prosecutor asked that the video be withheld and then denied its release on grounds it was exempt as a confidential law enforcement investigation record, the Enquirer states in its lawsuit filed yesterday.

The patrol failed to prove that the dash-cam video squarely meets the standards that allow investigatory records to be withheld as specific law-enforcement work product, says the lawsuit filed by Enqurier lawyer John C. Greiner.

The Enquirer argues that dash-cam videos differ little from 911 calls, in that they are automatically recorded in advance of any criminal investigation, and should be immediately released.

A patrol spokesman said that the video was properly withheld as part of a criminal investigation and that it promptly released the incident report and audio of radio traffic as requested by the newspaper. The patrol does release videos once criminal cases conclude, said Lt. Craig Cvetan.

In another Cincinnati area case involving the patrol last year, an Ohio appeals court ruled for the first time that police dash-cam videos are not public records.

The 12 District appellate judges denied a man’s request for video of a drunken-driving arrest, finding that the videos are confidential law-enforcement investigatory records exempt from release. The ruling was not appealed.