« Ind. Gov't. - Double whammy of PERF changes and criminal code changes | Main | Ind. Decisions - "ACS CAN: Marion County Superior Court Upholds Indy’s Smoke-Free Ordinance" »

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - Public records requests lead to insight on jail death; dash cam video in Ohio

Kara Kenney of WRTV6 had a strong story, with video, last evening on "what happened to Kendra Shaw, a 25-year-old inmate who died after a severe asthma attack inside the Grant County Jail." See the long story for details.

Re the public records requests, the story reports:

Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney filed a public records request with the Grant County Sheriff's Department on May 20 and May 27 to find out what happened with Kendra Shaw and to obtain jail policies.

When the sheriff’s department did not provide records, Kenney filed a formal complaint with the Indiana Public Access Counselor.

On June 24, the sheriff’s department, through its attorney, issued an apology for not complying with the public records law and provided 42 pages of documents. [The ILB did not locate a PAC opinion re Grant County, perhaps none was issued.]

Kenney also requested video from the jail showing Shaw. That video was released after RTV6 paid $200 for copies of eight DVDs.

ILB: A somewhat related public records story from the Cincinnati Enquirer earlier this month reported that:
Video from police cruiser cameras are not public records, according to a recent appellate court decision that applies to most southwest Ohio counties.

The May 27 ruling by the Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals involved a 2011 drunken driving arrest.

Mark Miller, who was not associated with the case but is a founder of the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST), had requested public records involving investigations by the arresting trooper from the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

The state patrol handed over some records but refused the dash cam saying it was exempt from the Ohio Public Records Act because it was an investigatory record. Miller received the dash-cam video after the case was finished in court.

“The cruiser camera video and the impaired driver report were both prepared by and on behalf of law enforcement officials with a specific investigatory purposes in mind,” said the decision by Judges Robert Hendrickson, Robin Piper and Mike Powell.

“Unlike 911 calls or reports detailing other people’s observations leading to the initiation of a criminal investigation, the withheld records ... document the criminal investigation triggered by the trooper’s own suspicion of a violation of Ohio law.”

The woman was pulled over for speeding, according to the judicial decision.

The ruling sets case law for an eight-county area, including Butler, Warren, Clermont, Brown, Clinton, Fayette, Madison and Preble counties. * * *

Jack Greiner, The Enquirer’s First Amendment attorney, said he thinks the 12th District’s ruling is “overly broad.”

“My understanding of the dash cam video is that it’s turned on regardless of whether there’s criminal activity or not. It is not a situation where only gets turned on if there’s a crime in progress,” Greiner said.

Keeping dash-cam videos confidential deprives the public of information on how police officers do their jobs, he said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 29, 2014 08:55 AM
Posted to Indiana Government