OTTUMWA — Area sheriff’s offices produced video from their dash and body cameras in response to public records requests filed by the Ottumwa Courier and Oskaloosa Herald.

The requests were made for each department’s first incident in either 2020 or 2021 as part of the InFocus reporting project that involves more than 30 newspapers in Iowa. The project examines how police video is recorded in the state, and whether agencies give the public access.

While many police agencies across the state deny access to such videos, all requests filed by the Courier or Herald in the project were responded to and filled.

In Marion County, officials provided video of a pursuit and drunken driving arrest that occurred on Jan. 1, 2020. The video was provided without charge.

Deputies with Marion County do not yet have body cameras, but the agency provided a lead officer’s dash camera video as well as a video of the suspect’s breath testing conducted at the jail.

In the video, a deputy was driving on a county highway in Marion County when he encountered a speeding vehicle. That vehicle fled at speeds over 100 mph before it was stopped by assisting officers. Officers approached with guns drawn, and the driver surrendered peacefully. The driver was ultimately charged with eluding and their second OWI charge.

Other videos showed more mundane police activity.

From Wapello County, a deputy’s dash camera showed an investigation into criminal trespassing as part of a child custody dispute. The video, provided for no charge, was recorded on Jan. 1, 2020.

In Mahaska County, deputies responded to a home that matched the registered owner of a wrecked and abandoned vehicle. The body camera video, recorded Jan. 5, 2020, showed a deputy’s brief interview and investigation into what occurred.

The vehicle had been abandoned at a Phillips 66 gas station in Oskaloosa badly damaged. The driver advised the deputy they had been tired that morning when they ran off the road and hit a pole. The crash was bad enough to deploy airbags.

The Mahaska County Sheriff’s Office charged the Herald $20 for obtaining the video for the cost of the DVD disk it came on.

For no charge, the Appanoose County Sheriff’s Office provided video of a traffic stop on Jan. 1, 2021. A deputy pulled over a vehicle with a taillight out. Both dash camera and body camera video were provided from the stop, which resulted in a verbal warning.

The driver, who was leaving a Centerville bar the morning of New Year’s Day, said they had a couple of shots, but hadn’t had any other alcoholic beverages in the last two hours. The deputy noted a light smell of alcohol and conducted a field sobriety test before allowing the driver to leave.

The Bloomfield Democrat requested and obtained video from the Davis County Sheriff’s Office. That video, recorded on Feb. 27, 2020, showed a deputy responding with lights and sirens to a fire call in Pulaski.

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Oskaloosa Herald and the Ottumwa Courier. He can be reached at kocker@oskyherald.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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