Kentucky State Police violated the state Open Records Act by refusing to produce surveillance video footage from one of its posts, Assistant Attorney General James M. Herrick wrote in an opinion released Monday.
Attorney general opinions carry the weight of law in open records cases.
Roger Lambert submitted an Open Records Act request for a copy of video footage from his visit to State Police Post 3 in Bowling Green on Sept. 30, as evidence of what happened between him and troopers in the lobby that morning. A security camera records the post's lobby.
The state police refused Lambert's request, saying it would be too burdensome to produce the video. It also cited the homeland security exemption to the Open Records Act, meant to protect state agencies against terrorist threats, telling Lambert his request would put troopers' lives at risk by exposing possible blind spots in their surveillance.
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"Clearly, public disclosure of the video recording for the lobby of a Kentucky State Police post creates an undue risk of revealing damaging security information about the public access point to the building," Emily M. Perkins, the state police's official custodian of records, wrote to Lambert on Dec. 22.
Lambert appealed to the attorney general's office, which sided with him.
Copying a video is not too burdensome for state police, Herrick wrote. Also, to cite the homeland security exemption, he wrote, a state agency must establish a "reasonable likelihood" that "public safety" is threatened by disclosure of critical documents, such as the detailed floor plans of a sensitive facility. Video footage of a public lobby does not qualify, he wrote.
"It is not sufficient to state merely that surveillance camera footage could expose a vulnerability in a building's security system," Herrick wrote. "The KSP has articulated a potential risk of danger to individual officers and employees, but not a reasonably likely threat to the general public."