(credit: See-ming Lee)

As body cams continue to flourish in police departments across the nation, an ongoing debate has ensued about how much, if any, of that footage should be made public under state open-access laws.

An overlooked twist to that debate, however, has now become front and center: How much should the public have to pay for the footage if the police agree to release it? News network NY1, a Time Warner Cable News operation, was billed $36,000 by the NYPD for roughly 190 hours of footage it requested under the state’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). Now the network is suing (PDF) the police department in New York state court, complaining that the price tag is too steep. The network said the bill runs “counter to both the public policy of openness underlying FOIL, as well as the purported transparency supposedly fostered by the BWC (body worn camera) program itself.”
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