Police body-camera footage: Too redacted, too costly, too delayed, transparency experts say

Body-cameras, heralded as a technology to enhance police transparency, haven’t done enough to ensure the public’s right to know, because agencies often heavily edit the footage. Not only does such editing obscure the footage, it also adds substantial costs and delays.

That’s according to transparency experts and advocates who spoke to the Daily Memphian for a June 7, 2021, article.

“It’s very challenging for a journalist with a time-sensitive story to get hold of bodycam video in any realistically affordable way,’’ said Frank LoMonte, director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida. “There are problems with timeliness. There are problems with hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars in redaction costs being assessed.’’

There’s also little consistency between departments, and sometimes even within the same department, regarding what footage is edited or redacted.

“There needs to be more clarity in the law,’’ said Deborah Fisher, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, a member of the National Freedom of Information Coalition.