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Copying Charges for Law Enforcement Records

This page provides guidance on what fees and charges police and sheriff departments in Washington State may impose for public records requests and includes examples of fee schedules.

It is part of MRSC's series on Law Enforcement Records Management and Disclosure, created in partnership with the Washington State Auditor's Center for Government Innovation.

Copying Charges for Law Enforcement Agencies

In general, unless a local government has established its actual costs, it may not charge more than the following default charges:

  • 15 cents per photocopy or printed copy of electronic record
  • 10 cents per scanned page
  • 5 cents per each four electronic files or attachments uploaded to email or other electronic delivery
  • 10 cents per gigabyte for the transmission of electronic records

In lieu of the default charges, a local government can establish its actual costs incurred for copying public records and adopt those actual costs after a public hearing.  In either case, local governments are prohibited from charging for the staff time spent in locating a public record or making it available for inspection (including any time spent redacting). Local governments may, however, charge the actual costs of copying paper and electronic records, including staff time spent copying the records. For a comprehensive overview of general PRA copying charges, please visit our Public Records Act webpage's section on Processing Public Records Requests.

In the law enforcement context, however, other statutes specific to law enforcement agencies allow for different types of cost recovery, not limited to the default charges in the PRA. These statutes are outlined below.

All Law Enforcement Agencies

  • Criminal History Records Information: RCW 10.97.100 allows criminal justice agencies to establish and collect reasonable fees for the dissemination of criminal history record information to agencies and persons.
  • Traffic Accident Reports: RCW 46.52.085 allows law enforcement agencies to adopt a standard fee to cover the costs of furnishing copies of traffic accident reports, regardless of the number of pages in the report.

Sheriff Departments Only

  • Audio, Visual, or Photographic Material: RCW 36.18.040(1)(t) allows sheriffs to collect fees for the reproduction of audio, visual, or photographic material, including the actual cost of personnel time.

Examples of Fee Schedules

Last Modified: February 27, 2019