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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Ind. Gov't. - "I also question whether a law enforcement agency can justify a $150 fee for a copy"

That is a quote from a comment by Steve Key of the Hoosier State Press Association that the ILB posted this morning.

The Evansville Courier & Press story by Shannon Hall that appeared in this morning's paper addresses the same issue. It begins:

It all comes down to cost.

Evansville Police Department officials say they want to be transparent with body and dash cameras, but the cost to adhere to the new body camera law will fall on the person requesting to view or copy a recording.

Evansville and other Indiana police departments say they don't want to deter the public from asking for body camera footage, but the costs to store and obscure the footage according to state law makes it too steep to hand out all footage for free.

More from the story:
"It's going to be substantial," Pugh said. "It's going to be something unforeseen we're going to have to purchase. The law has put a financial burden on the department's budget that we weren't expecting."

The department plans to charge a $150 fee for a copy of footage, the maximum amount an agency can charge. The main reason the department plans to charge the maximum is because of the expense of storing footage. The new law requires local departments to store all footage for 190 days or for two years if requested.

Because the Evansville police officers turn on their body cameras whenever they interact with the public, there’s hours upon hours of footage that will be stored. * * *

If a person requests a copy of body camera footage for a specific incident, it may actually cost the person more than the $150 fee. Pugh said if multiple officers are recording the incident, then each recording will cost $150.

"We're following the law the way it was laid out by the General Assembly," Pugh said. "We're being as transparent as the law allows us to be."

In the past, the Evansville Police Department has released some body camera footage to the public, and Pugh said he doesn't think that will change. But what is being released for free will be up to the police department.

"We don't think it's a perfect law in both ways," Pugh said. "I know some people are going to say that the fee we're charging, that somehow we're trying not to be transparent, but hey ... budgets are tight. We've got to somehow recover that."

Another big expense for the department will be for software to obscure some images on certain footage. Some body cameras were created to be tamper proof, Chandler said.

There is much more to read in the lengthy story.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 23, 2016 02:39 PM
Posted to Indiana Government