By Corinne Murdock |
In Flagstaff, a citizen requesting one hour of police body camera footage could expect to pay about $80.
Flagstaff Police Department body camera footage will now cost $46 per hour reviewed, along with a $30 charge for digital media storage, after the city council voted to no longer offer the records for free.
The Flagstaff City Council voted on Tuesday to charge for the footage during their regular meeting. The council cited a law from the state legislature enacted last October, which enabled cities to begin charging for police body camera footage. The law set the maximum fee at $46, which the council adopted.
The council noted in its presentation on the proposed fee that the hourly salary costs for legal review of public records requests of footage, in addition to the redactions by records personnel, exceeded the state statute cap of $46.
The city estimated that the labor cost of FPD’s records lead was $37 an hour, while a records supervisor was $42 an hour, and a legal advisor’s labor cost was $118 an hour. Factoring those estimates and excluding use of equipment or digital media costs, the city calculated that the hourly cost to review, redact, and copy the footage was around $160 an hour.
The presentation further suggested that the public mitigate its costs by narrowing public records requests to specific videos within a case, rather than casting a wide net. City staff noted that FPD posts videos of certain critical incidents online at no charge.
“Costs for videos can be managed by making requests for specific videos, such as one where a person was arrested, or ones where a particular people were interviewed as opposed to all videos in each case,” stated the city.
The city’s financial impact description on its final agenda noted that staff spent over 200 hours redacting body camera footage over the course of one year, July 2022 to July 2023: about four hours a week. However, the city’s presentation on the policy said that the 200 hours were spent reviewing body camera footage, not the time it took to redact and download the footage.
The city estimated that redactions took as long as 45 minutes per every hour of video. For downloads, they estimated it takes about 20 minutes for a CD download per hour of video and three minutes for a thumb drive transfer per hour of video.
The 200 hours were responsive to about 136 public records requests. For all that time, the city estimated that it would have collected over $9,200 in revenue under the state statute’s $46 cap.
The legislature previously passed a law enabling the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to charge for body camera footage in 2021. DPS charges about $42 per hour of footage reviewed.
The council passed the policy without any comment.
Additionally, the city updated the language describing the police body camera records from “copies of tapes” to “digital media.”