City Government

State Seeks To Hide Security Video From Public Scrutiny

In what appears to be an overreaction to the armed guy prowling the legislative chambers with a troop of Boy Scouts, the Idaho department of Administration is pushing a bill in the legislature that would deny “security video” recorded by public agencies from public viewing.

That means citizens of Boise wouldn’t get to see the former police chief returning stolen property to city hall after hours or hockey players engaged in a game of “strip hockey” at Idaho Ice World. There is usually no reason to deny public access to video recordings in public areas–regardless of the content.

At a hearing Thursday, Administration employee Ric Johnson told the House State Affairs Committee his agency already thinks it has power to exempt recordings. The House panel agreed to introduce Administration’s bill.

His arguments are based on exemption for various blueprints, drawings and plans detailing wiring, plumbing, and heat ducts. By extension, some legal minds feel details of the placement of video cameras and related cables would also be exempt. The GUARDIAN would agree those items should be exempt and would be valuable to terrorists.

However, the content of video made by security cameras in public areas of public buildings should be a public record. It is dangerous to give a blanket exemption of such a vast area of public records. No doubt there are some former elected officials who would still be in office if their actions and companions were not recorded or made public.

After a man in January 2012 made a request for recordings from the Capitol, the agency began worrying. Their fears should be limited to technical details of the equipment, its wiring, and storage rather than the content.

Rep. John Gannon of Boise told Johnson he’s concerned the agency’s proposal could make it tougher for the public to obtain important recordings like those from Idaho prisons that recently highlighted problems with inmate violence. We share Gannon’s concerns and suggest the legislature make some precise surgical adjustments rather than cut off public scrutiny of schools, buses, and any other places covered by cameras.

In February 2010 the GUARDIAN prevailed in a similar suit against Boise City when they tried to hide video of “STRIP HOCKEY.” While District Court cases are not precedent setting, they serve as guidance in litigation.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. I still think the whole thing with the gun-guy snooping around was a set-up so they could improve/tighten their security and anti-gun in the capital concerns. Let’s find out more about those connections.

  2. A very clear and disturbing violation of the of United States Court of Appeals for the First District ruling “Glik vs. Cunniffe, et al City of Boston Circuit Number 10-1764P-01A decision to wit: The filming of government officials engaged in their duties in a public place, including police officers performing their responsibilities fits comfortably within these principles Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting “the free discussion of governmental affairs.”

    The decision is here: http://www.ca1.uscourts.gov/pdf.opinions/10-1764P-01A.pdf

    It is very obvious Idaho Politicos DO NOT CARE if they break the law just witness the Ada Dynamis Deal.

  3. Sounds like somebodies runnin a little scared…

  4. I think they’re afraid someone will see them pick their nose and put in on YouTube.

  5. Rod in SE Boise
    Feb 23, 2013, 8:33 am

    All those videos should be available. Let the sunshine in.

    OK, if the Guardian won the lawsuit about hockey videos, provide a link. I’ve got popcorn.

    EDITOR NOTE–Rod, the quality was so bad you couldn’t tell if it was hockey or geese flying in a grey sky.

  6. “However, the content of video made by security cameras in public areas of public buildings should be a public record.”

    I agree.

  7. First, efforts to stifle Occupy Boise, and now this. Maybe the governor can pull an Ada County and “reorganize” this close-minded “admin” department out of business. Let the Idaho Attorney General or Idaho Secretary of State handle these open government and transparency issues.

  8. taylor erskine
    Feb 24, 2013, 7:04 am

    How about their pre emptive feel good legislation that purports to keep them from ever considering any marijuana reformation laws at state level regardless of how their subjects, I mean constituency may want them to act. Reminds me of voter term limits 7 or 8 years ago.

    The people spoke expecting their elected officials to act accordingly and their response was to hold a closed door caucus meeting away from the very eyes of those they are supposed to be beholden to. Years ago some BSU students did a sit in at the rotunda and dropped fake money from the viewing gallery and had to be carried out. I’ll never forget how red Jim Risch’s face was while yelling at these seated protestors demanding they vacate what him and his cronies obviously believed then, and still believe, is theirs.

    This is nothing more than fear mongering in what will probably turn out to be a successful, albeit rather lame, and unimaginative attempt by our leaders ( most of whom voter approved term limits would have removed by now I imagine) to remove the people even farther away from what is supposed to be our house. I have not felt welcome as a participant there before I was even old enough to vote but it still saddens me to see it get any worse. If these individuals do not feel safe in a public forum open to those they represent as it always has been then maybe they use the nearest exit to skedaddle. Oh and leave all future checks and benifits at the doors just like your constituents would have to.

  9. taylor erskine
    Feb 24, 2013, 7:07 am

    Sorry bout typos. Rischs picture I referred to was on the front of the Statesman. I was not a participant in protest.

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