Body camera footage could be costly to the public

TASER body camera (TASER website Photo)
TASER body camera (TASER website Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Law enforcement agencies throughout the state can begin charging people on Thursday for copies of body-worn camera footage, according to an adopted rule posted by the Secretary of State’s office.

There will be a $10 fee for each body camera recording provided by an agency. The new rule also allows a flat fee of $1 per minute of footage required to be reviewed, if an identical copy has not been released, according to the posting. The Office of the Attorney General created the rule, which goes into effect Nov. 24.

The rule is meant to allow law enforcement agencies to recover the cost of providing copies of video. Kelley Shannon, executive director of the Texas Freedom of Information Foundation, said it remains to be seen how the cost will be applied and if it will be burdensome.

“On the surface, this doesn’t sound unreasonable,” Shannon said. “But it all depends on how it is put into practice.”

If people can isolate the video they want, that could keep down the cost. However, if requesters are bombarded with video they are required to pay for, the costs could become too high, Shannon said.

A bigger concern, Shannon added, is just how much body camera video will be made available because law enforcement agencies have numerous provisions they can use to block its release.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has provided the public the right to request access to records from any public agency. Agencies can charge for the records to recoup administrative fees and other associated costs that goes along with retrieving the records.

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