In The Know: Court rules police dashcam videos are open records

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that an Oklahoma court ruled that dashcam videos of arrests made by police officers and sheriff deputies are open records that should not be kept from the public. An Oklahoma court previously ruled that video of Highway Patrol troopers’ arrest should be open to the public, but the Legislature then passed a bill to exempt troopers from turning them over. Tulsa’s mayoral race is already one of the most expensive in city history, with about $2.1 million raised by the three leading candidates.

The death toll from Friday’s storms has risen to 18, with 5 others still missing. Marketplace reported on the contrasting situations of an insured homeowner and an uninsured renter who both lost their homes in the Moore tornado. The Tulsa World reported on how school districts have struggled to fund safe rooms. The OK Policy Blog shared what you need to know about Oklahoma’s new online insurance marketplace set to begin operations in four months. The Muskogee Phoenix gave lawmakers an ‘F’ for their record on health care this session. 

Oklahoma churches are debating how to respond to Boy Scouts of America’s decision to allow homosexual boys to participate. Three years after his arrest, the trial began yesterday for Oklahoma native Bradley Manning over what has been called the largest leak of military secrets in U.S. history. The Number of the Day is the unemployment rate for Oklahoma workers under age 25. In today’s Policy Note, a new study by the RAND Corporation shows that states that choose not to expand Medicaid will leave millions of their residents without health insurance and increase spending on the cost of treating uninsured residents.

In The News

Police dashcam videos are open records, Oklahoma appellate court rules

Videotapes of arrests made by police officers and sheriff deputies no longer should be considered secret, an Oklahoma appellate court ruled Friday. “Unfortunately, too often, I will read police reports and then I’ll go watch videotapes and what the police reports say happen didn’t happen the way they say it did,” said Josh D. Lee, a Vinita attorney who filed a lawsuit in Rogers County three years ago seeking videotapes taken from a dashcam mounted in a city of Claremore police cruiser. The ruling by the Oklahoma Court of Civil appeals does not affect video taken by Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers. An Oklahoma County District Court judge also ruled in 2005 that patrol video of arrests should be open to the public, but the state Public Safety Department since then succeeded to get legislation passed that specifically exempted troopers from turning over videotapes.

Read more from NewsOK.

$2.1 million raised by Tulsa mayoral candidates so far

Tulsa’s mayoral race is already one of the most expensive in city history, with about $2.1 million raised by the three leading candidates in the months leading up to a potentially decisive nonpartisan primary election next week. Former Mayor Kathy Taylor’s personal contributions to her campaign put her well ahead of the pack, with $1.34 million raised so far — including $850,000 in loans to her own campaign, reports filed Monday show. Mayor Dewey Bartlett reported raising $476,855, including $62,000 from personal loans, while former City Councilor Bill Christiansen has raised $302,729, with $215,000 of that from personal loans, Christiansen Campaign Manager Josh McFarland said.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma storm death toll rises to 18; others still missing

Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency in 25 more counties Monday as the death toll continued to climb from tornadoes and torrential rains that swept across central Oklahoma. The state medical examiner’s office said at least 18 people were dead after the body of a girl was found Monday afternoon along the Deep Fork River in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City firefighters continued to search for five people who still were missing. The state Health Department said 115 people were treated for injuries at Oklahoma City area hospitals as a result of Friday’s storms.

Read more from NewsOK.

Losing “everything” is relative in a tornado

In the midst of Oklahoma’s freight-train-cacophony, Cyndi and Michelle both heard a whispering, high-pitched sound as the center of the tornado passed over their homes in Moore, Okla. When Cyndi heard it, she was in her underground bunker, yanking on the handle of the door in the ceiling to keep it shut while soothing her three dogs. Michelle was a few blocks away when she heard “the whistle of the air going through the walls,” she says, as she was crouched in the closet of her rented house. After the whistling faded and the tornado had passed, they each found their homes obliterated and reduced to nothing. Disasters, as they say, are great equalizers. They hit rich and poor and in between alike.  But what happens once a disaster is over?

Read more from Marketplace.

School districts struggle to fund safe rooms

Miss Vera Carter braced her back against the schoolhouse door “in a vain attempt to protect her pupils” as the deadly tornado swept over the Vireton school near McAlester at 11 a.m. on Jan. 4, 1917. The cyclone swept up Carter and about a dozen of her students along with the school building, flinging them onto a hillside across a nearby ravine, the Tulsa Daily World reported. The teacher, dubbed the “heroine of Vireton,” still held the school’s doorknob in her hand when she was found. A few boards marked the spot where the country school once stood. While Carter lived to tell the story to reporters several weeks later, nearly all of her students from the school northeast of McAlester did not.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Exchanges 101: New insurance marketplaces will help link over 300,000 Oklahomans with affordable coverage

The primary intention of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable health insurance options. The law seeks to help millions of Americans who aren’t provided health insurance through their jobs or a public program to gain access to affordable coverage in the individual market. Beginning in four months, individuals and small businesses will be able to purchase insurance on the newly created health insurance marketplaces, also known as exchanges. Many individuals and families will receive premium tax credits to help pay for the insurance.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Legislature gets F on health care

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin gave lawmakers an A for approving much of her agenda during the recently concluded legislative session. The Legislature deserves an F for its handling of the health insurance situation for lower-income Oklahomans. This group is about 17 percent of the state’s population. Fallin rejected the opportunity last year under the federal health care law to expand Medicaid coverage to nearly 200,000 people without health insurance. She said doing so would prove too costly. House Speaker T.W. Shannon said he doesn’t believe providing health insurance “is a proper or efficient function of government.”

Read more from the Muskogee Phoenix.

Oklahoma churches debate acceptance of gay Boy Scouts

Tulsa’s largest United Methodist church is considering dropping its scouting program after the Boy Scouts of America decided to allow homosexual boys to participate. The Rev. Guy Ames, Asbury United Methodist Church pastor who oversees the scouting program there, said no final decision has been made. “What’s important is the boys.” Ames said he was not in favor of the Boy Scouts’ decision: “I’m sorry this had to be addressed at this age. We want to be addressing other issues (than sexual orientation).” Another major Tulsa United Methodist Church will not change its scouting program. “Now that the national group has spoken, we’re not going to make any changes,” said the Rev. Bill Crowell, associate pastor of Boston Avenue United Methodist Church downtown. Toby Jenkins, executive director of Oklahomans for Equality, said the Boy Scouts should follow the lead of the Girl Scouts and Camp Fire USA, which adopted inclusive policies a couple of decades ago.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Bradley Manning trial began yesterday

Three years after his arrest, Bradley Manning goes on trial for what has been called the largest leak of military secrets in U.S. history. The Oklahoma Army private, who has admitted to leaking thousands of classified government documents to the site WikiLeaks, goes on trial today for 21 charges against him, including aiding the enemy, which carries a life sentence in prison. Manning has already pleaded guilty to 10 lesser charges, which could still put him in prison for 20 years. According to a report by CNN: “Manning said he passed on information that ‘upset’ or ‘disturbed’ him but didn’t give WikiLeaks anything he thought would harm the United States if it were made public. ‘I believed if the public was aware of the data, it would start a public debate of the wars.’”

Read more from This Land Press.

Quote of the Day

State policymakers should be aware that if they do not expand Medicaid, fewer people will have health insurance, and that will trigger higher state and local spending for uncompensated medical care. Choosing to not expand Medicaid may turn out to be the more-costly path for state and local governments.

-Carter Price, the lead author of a RAND Corporation study showing that states that reject the Medicaid expansion will end up paying more for healthcare coverage than states that participate — and covering far fewer people (Source:

Number of the Day

10.6 percent

Unemployment rate for Oklahoma workers under age 25, more than twice the rate for all workers (5.1 percent) in 2012

Source: Economic Policy Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Expanding Medicaid is best financial option for states

States that choose not to expand Medicaid under federal health care reform will leave millions of their residents without health insurance and increase spending, at least in the short term, on the cost of treating uninsured residents, according to a new RAND Corporation study. If 14 states decide not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act as intended by their governors, those state governments collectively will spend $1 billion more on uncompensated care in 2016 than they would if Medicaid is expanded. In addition, those 14 state governments would forego $8.4 billion annually in federal payments and an additional 3.6 million people will be left uninsured, according to findings published in the June edition of the journal Health Affairs. “Our analysis shows it’s in the best economic interests of states to expand Medicaid under the terms of the federal Affordable Care Act,” said Carter Price, the study’s lead author and a mathematician at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.

Read more from the RAND Corporation.

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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