Home / Be The Change / Government Corruption / Transparency is Expensive — NYPD Charges News Network $36,000 For Body Camera Footage

Transparency is Expensive — NYPD Charges News Network $36,000 For Body Camera Footage

New York, NY – In the wake of growing controversy surrounding police violence, more police departments are equipping their officers with body cameras. However, while police-worn body cameras can bring extra evidence into cases on both sides, they are far from a fix for police brutality. The main obstacle with these cameras is the fact that the footage is still entirely controlled by police departments.

The officer in the field has an opportunity to turn the camera on and off at their discretion. The cops in the office then have a second opportunity to edit the footage or redact parts that might make the officer look bad or incriminate them. Additionally, police departments are often guilty of withholding body camera footage from victim’s families and news organizations.

In one recent case, the NYPD charged a TV news network $36,000 for body camera footage, stating that it would cost them that much to prepare the footage for the network. The network is now suing the police department, stating that the high price undermines the transparency that body cameras have been promised to bring. Charging obnoxious prices for the release of body camera footage is just another trick that the police use to keep their activities from going public.

According to the lawsuit, filed by Time Warner Cable News NY1:

“[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.”

The lawsuit also stated that the NYPD’s policy was “counter to both the public policy of openness underlying FOIL (Freedom of Information Law), as well as the purported transparency supposedly fostered by the BWC (body worn camera) program itself.”

The police department claims that their fee is “reasonable” considering the time and effort required to edit the footage.

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In a response to NY1, the NYPD sent a letter explaining their costs.

The letter stated that:

“The RAO’s estimate of the cost of processing a copy of the BWC footage was reasonable based on an estimate that the total time of footage recorded during the five weeks specified in the FOIL request was approximately 190 hours, and in addition to the 190 hours required to view the recordings in real time, an additional 60% (or 114 hours) will be required to copy the BWC footage in a manner that will redact the exempt portions of the BWC footage, for a total of approximately 304 hours. The lowest paid NYPD employee with the skills required to prepare a redacted copy of the recordings is in the rank of police officer, and the costs of compensating a police officer is $120 per hour. Multiplying $120 by 304 hours equals $34,480 which closely approximates the amount estimated by the RAO. This approximate cost does not include the time required to locate and collate the recordings, for which no charge is made, as that time is a part of the search for responsive records, and not a part of the time required for copying. In sum, the copying cost, as estimated by the RAO, is reasonable and commensurate with the breadth of the FOIL request.”

Even if their claims are true, which they most likely are not, having the police handle body camera footage “in house” is obviously not the best option for transparency or cost, considering the inflated budgets that police officers enjoy.

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Many advocates for police accountability suggest that body camera footage should be open source, and in the hands of the people and not the police. This could likely be handled by teams of volunteers and donors who could keep the project running without a large budget.

When there is a project that has enough support, it will usually receive sufficient donations from individuals, businesses and charity organizations to keep the program operating. We saw this in the U.S. a few years back, when the government pulled the plug on funding for the SETI space program. This was a program that many people still wanted despite the government’s decision to cut funding. In fact, they wanted it around so badly that over 2,400 different donations were received in a single week, easily surpassing their goal of $200,000.

If put in the hands of the public, police body camera footage could work in the same way, but this option has been unanimously rejected by police departments across the country.

John Vibes is an author and researcher who organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference. He also has a publishing company where he offers a censorship free platform for both fiction and non-fiction writers. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can purchase his books, or get your own book published at his website www.JohnVibes.com.

  • public property

  • Even if you got the money they still will come up with some excuse to hand over the video

  • when someone is going to break the law against you, it is OK to kill them. The police have now become our enemy for money.

  • So much for free speech…

  • Thats an ObamaNation

  • Sounds like the “Freedom of Information Act” turned into the “$36,000 Information Act”…

  • Nope, save them on youtube. There, saved everyone a ton of money.

  • They should be kept by the county clerk records office and should be avalible for public to view!…

  • do you ever get the impression that the concept of right and wrong is totally alien to some police forces?

  • Most Definitely both should get a copy of the videos to review…

  • No police should not police police…but I see executions by law enforcement all the time on TV …what’s these cameras 4 ? A better view?

    • Maybe the Scotland law enforcement can teach the Americans how its done ..we had over 1000 African Americans murdered by u.s. police in 2015 smh

    • Here’s the kicker they gone tell us the real problem is the national debt or that Muslims r a national threat when the police running around executing black men on TV by the hundreds

    • Well said…yea we def need more people on these issues but they got everyone so distracted its crazy these politicians r really out of control..

  • The lowest paid NYPD employee with the skills required to prepare a redacted copy of the recordings is in the rank of police officer, and the costs of compensating a police officer is $120 per hour.WOW!!! THIS IS ROBBERY WITH CITIZENS TAX MONEY!!! UTTERLY DISGRACEFUL!!

    • money isnt valuable at all

    • revolution for free thought is the most valuable essence of the planet, because LOVE will ALWAYS RUN TRUTH THROUGH TYRANNY!!!!!!!!!

    • unfortunately we are afraid one of each other because of those who change the rules of the game how they need for their profit, unthinkig what damage we provide to the planet and to other of her children.

  • What bullshit! Tax money pays for it. Makes it public property.

  • Yes, and there should have NEVER FUCKING BEEN A FUCKING OFF BUTTON!!!!

  • You knew they would try to do anything to keep the truth about how cowardly this criminal gang is from coming out.

  • how about , you don’t give the footage for free you get fired

  • “Do you think body cam footage should be in the hands of civilian watchdog groups instead of police?”

    Not instead of, but in addition to.

  • Absolutely. Or give ALL criminals control over the evidence of their crimes. Fair is fair.

  • Another example of the odious tactics and power trip that law enforcement is on.

  • just means it can’t be body

  • We take your money to buy cameras. We take more money to show you what’s on them. Sounds legit

  • obviously!

  • Bullshit!!

  • It is free. This crap is nothing more than extortion.

  • Stream it live!

  • Here’s a radical idea: Provide it via an upload site for free because ALL THAT YOU DO COMES FROM TAXES. Also, the phrase “If you have nothing to hide, let us have it” can be a very inconvenient two way street for the thin blue line.

  • Shouldn’t it part of the public record and be easily obtained through a foia request?

  • Yes

  • yes it should be and WE should pick the civilians NOT gummint officials

  • Please talk about immigration
    Tell him no more promise
    Time to fix immigration they started tearing up families

    Yes I will vote for Bernie but address this !!!

    As of January 2 ice police is everywhere and nobody has our representatives has called Obama !!!

    We Hispanic help him win
    Which no one talks about!!!

    No more promise!!

    I pay so much taxes
    For rich people’s war
    I rather spend it on humans

    Mexico don’t ship people this way
    And Mexicans are not the only family they are tearing apart.

    What do you this those new orphans will do in the future with their lives or even to society
    We are probably building the next generation of killer or terrorist
    We are building them!!!

    No more promises
    Find a solution now

    No more promises!!!!

    • If they hadn’t come here illegally their family would not be torn apart by deportation. The border needs to be closed and all people here illegally charged with espionage.

  • Yes.

  • No but I don’t think police should exists either.

  • So far having video of the killings isn’t resulting in convictions. Not sure what body cameras will change

  • cops work for public. the footage is public property

  • Obviously! Or this will just continue…

  • me i think that cameras shold be wifi unlocked and open to view by the public live and recorded while on duty with out a shut off switch a third party manages the camera footage and store them in three open to the public sites. and they can only be shut off and turned on by the third parties. and just as a wifi camera can be accesed bt anyone able to acces wifi!!!!!!!!!!! and as far as charging money for evidence nope dont fly!!!!!!!!! they dont pay the citizen for it they just take it so it dont fly!!! coruption coruption and coruption. to copy a digital video does not take hours and it take no skill what so ever its easier then using a copier!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! just copy and paste the video file and you have a copy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • now editing and creating cgi video could cost that much. so now you get charged for them falsifing it too!!! maybe that why teir asses always going broke they paying so much to falsify and paying so much to cover up their mistakes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • It should be free as the taxpayers have already paid for the footage!

  • BS

  • I don’t trust some seething vigilante either. It should be out of the hands of extremists or police.

  • Protect yourself. Video record all police encounters, yours and others.

  • Yes

  • If you want the evidence that will exonerate you, you will have to pay us for your freedom. I would sue the department for withholding evidence or something like that. This is an extortion racket for a bankrupt police department and they are both financially and morally bankrupt at that.

  • The footage should be free, it being public property. Further, the turn off switch should be non-functional, except for inserting a small marker, somewhere in the video, as an indicator that the _real_ criminal new what he was doing, and wanted to conceal their crime.


  • Absolutely

  • Yes.

  • Absolutely!

  • Shawn LiAustin Mackillop #Milked

  • Yes

  • We paid for the fucking cameras! We own the videos.

  • Public records, bitch. If I can get my hands on the call in to 911, then I can get my hands on the footage of the camera used by the responding officer.

  • also

  • They use any trick possible to keep being pieces of shits.
    All of this must change.
    Stop voting left right up down: they are all the same.
    The system must be changed.

  • Why should you have to ask the question?