City councilors uncomfortable with plan to change fee for police video

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 11:07 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - Tuesday, City Council members began to consider a change in how much is charged to access Fort Wayne police video, including dash cam and body cam footage.

The proposal? A charge of $4 per minute of video, up to $150.

Tuesday, Fort Wayne Police Chief Steve Reed claimed the department charges a $30 flat fee for video. Although, until recently, the department has refused to release video publicly, citing “investigatory records”.

RELATED: Public Access Counselor: City violates law by withholding Mayor arrest video

“With the number of body cams that we’ve added, the number of officers that we’ve added - so that’s body cameras, that’s car cameras – it just keeps growing,” Reed said.

With more funds, Reed says the change would allow him to add more staff and increase the salary of current officers.

“It’s quite time consuming for the officers,” Reed said.

Reed says the change is necessary because of an increase in requests for video.

But some City Council members seemed surprised by the request and were uncomfortable with the proposed plan, saying it may prevent people charged with a crime from proving their innocence.

“I’m concerned that it would disproportionately impact those who could not afford to be able to capture all of the videos to be able to prove their case,” Councilwoman Sharon Tucker (D) said.

Councilwoman Tucker says her main issue with the plan lies with its affordability.

“Having $4 per minute, per camera, per incident up to $150 is very concerning for public access to the footage,” Tucker said.

Tuesday, council members voted to hold on the plan until next week’s meeting. Reed says he hears their concerns and will try to clarify information next week.

“I always appreciate their questions,” Reed said. “They asked for some data, and we’re going to give it to them.”

While Tucker says she and other council members are concerned with the affordability of the plan, she does agree there should be a fee in place. She hopes to help figure out what she calls a better solution.