Police department charging TV news network $36,000 for body cam footage

ArsTechnica – by David Kravets

As body cams continue to flourish in police departments across the nation, an ongoing debate has ensued about how much, if any, of that footage should be made public under state open-access laws.

An overlooked twist to that debate, however, has now become front and center: How much should the public have to pay for the footage if the police agree to release it? News network NY1, a Time Warner Cable News operation, was billed $36,000 by the NYPD for roughly 190 hours of footage it requested under the state’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).   Now the network is suing (PDF) the police department in New York state court, complaining that the price tag is too steep. The network said the bill runs “counter to both the public policy of openness underlying FOIL, as well as the purported transparency supposedly fostered by the BWC (body worn camera) program itself.”

For its part, the police department said it is simply charging for the costs to review the footage and make whatever redactions are necessary to comply with legal and privacy concerns. The NYPD said it would take a police officer 190 hours to review the footage, at $120 per hour, plus an additional 114 hours to “copy the footage in a manner that will redact the exempt portions.” That brings to 304 hours the amount of time to comply with the network’s request, the NYPD said.

The police department did not say how it came to the $120-hourly rate, other than noting that “the cost of compensating a police officer is $120 per hour.”

In its lawsuit, NY1 said the NYPD “denied NY1’s request for unedited footage without specifying what material it plans to redact, how much material will be excluded from disclosure, or how the redaction will be performed. Instead, Respondents suggested that they may provide NY1 with edited footage, but only on the condition that NY1 remit $36,000.00, the alleged cost to the NYPD of performing its unidentified redactions.”


David Kravets / The senior editor for Ars Technica. Founder of TYDN fake news site. Technologist. Political scientist. Humorist. Dad of two boys. Been doing journalism for so long I remember manual typewriters with real paper.


2 thoughts on “Police department charging TV news network $36,000 for body cam footage

  1. ZERO is what the public should pay, ZERO.

    Those camera’s are meant to keep bad cops from getting away with crimes LIKE MURDER, or framing innocent people..
    To provide PROOF TO ALL.
    ZERO charges for the film, or get rid of the cops and police departments.

  2. Agreed George! The taxpayers have already been ripped off to pay for the cameras, the video and the oinker’s time, this is pure BS and a thinly veneered attempt to keep us from seeing the footage. And, $120.00 an hour for a NYPD pig’s time? Outrageous!

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