DC ANC member says body cam footage fees prohibit gov't transparency

- A member of D.C.’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission is crying foul after she filed a public records request for police body cam video, and was hit with a huge bill.

The video shows D.C. police questioning three young boys in a Capitol Hill neighborhood just before Christmas. Police have said the boys were accused of threatening a man with a knife at a nearby CVS – accused but never charged.

A bystander took video because she was worried about so many officers stopping and frisking such young boys. The incident raised questions from neighbors about whether the police followed protocol, and ANC Commissioner Denise Krepp is trying to get those answers.

When she filed the public request, however, Krepp received an invoice for more than $5,000 or $23 per minute of video D.C. police say they would need to redact.

“You kind of cough and go that’s not transparency. That’s prohibitive and that stops people from asking for the video camera coverage,” Krepp said.

When Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the body camera program in 2016, she stressed that it would benefit transparency.

“It was a $5 million commitment then and we’re committed to a transparent system and work with the members of the council to have policies in place to make it very clear how we can use footage to keep our communities and our officers safe,” Bowser said in 2016.

When police want to share video with the public, they post it for free on their YouTube channel.

But in this case, they say the law allows them to charge even an elected official the full amount on the invoice.

“$5000 for body cam video of three young boys is outrageous and it makes me question what else. Where are these fees going? Who’s being paid $5000 to scrub videos and what are you scrubbing?” Krepp said.

D.C. police have reached out to FOX 5 with a statement regarding the policy:

The FOIA office advised Commissioner Krepp of the costs that would be incurred for the redaction process as only involved parties are allowed to view the un-redacted version. The redaction of BWC video is done at a contracted price by a third party vendor, the cost of which is then charged to the requester, per the DCMR.

Commander Kane of the First District has spoken with Commissioner Krepp regarding the incident and agreed to attend an upcoming community meeting.

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