Seattle Man Makes Expensive Records Requests to Increase Public - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Seattle Man Makes Expensive Records Requests to Increase Public Trust

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YAKIMA, WA. -- We told you recently that the City of Yakima is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to deal with an increase in public records requests. In the last couple months, that cost has gone even higher. On Monday, we learned one person is behind much of those rising costs.

On his records requests, he's simply known as "Police Video Requests". His name is Timothy Clemans. He lives in Seattle and makes records requests to cities all over Washington.

This morning we talked to him on the phone and found out why he's doing this and what he thinks about the effect it's having across the state. 

It started around September. Timothy Clemans, under the alias "Police Video Requests", started making dozens of records requests to cities across Washington including the City of Yakima.

On the phone, Clemans told us he wants all videos to be open and available to public, not to find officers making mistakes, rather the opposite. 

"The vast reality is that 99 percent of police interactions go right," Clemans said. "So what this is going to do is bring the community and the police department together and trust one another in way they probably have never done."

Clemans' requests may seem like overkill, such as every police video from all of 2014. Requests like that can cost Yakima hundreds of thousands of dollars since city workers have to inspect every line of text and every frame of video for privacy redactions. 

City Spokesperson Randy Beehler says part of the problem is what he calls Washington's liberal public records law. 

"Efforts have been made for a lot of years to try to convince the legislators to at least make some amendments, some reasonable amendments," Beehler said. "But it puts those elected officials in a very uncomfortable position, because they would in essence be saying, 'we're against transparency.'"

Clemans says if done correctly though, it won't have to be so expensive. 

"It costs a lot of money to be inefficient," Clemans said. 

And he wants to help. He's recently started a non-profit called Police Video Association. 

"My goal is just to help everybody better use police data," Clemans said. 

The City of Yakima says they would welcome any help that could be offered to reduce the cost of public records requests. They say they received over one thousand requests in 2014, three times as many as in 2011.