Days after McKinney, Tx., police officer Eric Casebolt was filmed pointing his service weapon at unarmed black teenagers at a pool party last month, month, Gawker sent a Public Information Act request to the city asking to see Casebolt's records and any emails about his conduct sent or received by McKinney police employees. The city's attorneys told the website this week that fulfilling our request would cost $79,229.09. The city arrived at that extraordinary figure after estimating that hiring a programmer to execute the grueling and complex task of searching through old emails would cost $28.50 per hour, and that the search for emails about Casebolt would take 2,231 hours of the programmer's time.
That comes to about $63,000; the bill also includes $14,726 “to cover the actual time a computer resource takes to execute a particular program.” In other words, the operating cost of the computer used to search the emails is nearly 15 grand on its own. Another portion of Gawker's request, for copies of Casebolt's personnel file and any internal investigations into his conduct, costs $255.04. Casebolt, who has since resigned, joined the department in 2005, and Gawker requested copies of all correspondence regarding his conduct dating back to that year. The city says emails maintained by the city before March 1, 2014, “are not in a format that is searchable by City personnel,” and making the emails searchable would require “Programming Personnel to execute an existing program or to create a new program so that requested information may be accessed and copied.”