Earlier today, I was pleased to speak to the Criminal Justice Advisory Committee, a committee under the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, in Harrisburg.
The topic was video records such as bodycams and dashcams, how they’re currently handled under Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law, pending legislation on the topic, and other related issues.
My thanks to the Chairman, Representative Mike Vereb, for inviting me to speak.
Here’s the presentation I used:
Criminal Justice Advisory Committee Presentation (PDF)
Criminal Justice Advisory Committee Presentation (PPTX)
Commonwealth Court has again ruled that mobile video recordings (MVRs), such as dashcam videos, are public records.
In the new case, Pennsylvania State Police v. Casey Grove, the court upheld an Office of Open Records decision and found that the case “is virtually indistinguishable” from the first (PSP v. Michelle Grove, which I wrote about here).
PSP has appealed the first case to the Supreme Court, which has not yet decided whether to hear the appeal.
Commonwealth Court today issued an opinion (Pennsylvania State Police v. Michelle Grove) holding that “video recordings of interaction between law enforcement officers and members of the public in a public place” are not exempt from disclosure and, thus, are public records under the Right-to-Know Law. Such recordings are commonly referred to as dash cam videos or MVRs (“mobile vehicle recordings”).
Senior Judge James Gardner Colins authored the opinion, which held that “as documentation of law enforcement officers’ conduct in carrying out their duties, MVRs are at the core [of] the RTKL’s purpose of enabling the public to ‘scrutinize the actions of public officials, and make public officials accountable for their actions'” (quoting Pennsylvania State Police v. McGill, 83 A.3d at 479).
The case was remanded to the Office of Open Records for further review related to the audio component of one of the videos and Pennsylvania’s Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act, aka the Wiretap Act.