DC Mayor Warns of Expense of Releasing Police Body-Camera Videos

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser
Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser

As Washington, D.C., attempts to introduce body cameras to half its police force this year, Mayor Muriel Bowser has been pointing to the financial burden it could place on the city’s budget if footage is released to the public, the Washington Post reports.

According to the report, Bowser told members of the City Council Tuesday that if they refuse to allow footage from body cameras to remain private, the city could be hit with a $1.5 million bill annually, which, she said, could keep the city’s chief financial officer from certifying the budget. 

Bowser has framed this as just a financial matter, but the Post points out that she had also “pledged a new era of public accountability in the city.” Critics are claiming that these new figures are just another attempt to avoid making the footage fully available.


The financial argument concerning body-camera footage is not unique to the nation’s capital. According to the Post, cost and privacy concerns have led a number of states to propose restricting or completely withholding access to the footage. Some cities have compromised by putting blurred versions of all footage online. 

Sources told the Post that the figures were based on the possibility that District police would have to make public as many as 4,500 videos a year. Between processing requests and redacting personal information, the city might need to hire four employees and pay a contractor some $600 per hour for the footage. 

Read more at the Washington Post

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