Resources About Legal Issues, Legislation, & Court Cases

BWC Legislation's

Laws governing how and when police body-worn cameras can be used and whether the footage is released vary considerably across the country. The BWC legislation tracker can be used to find out about passed and pending laws in your state. The tracker will be updated periodically as state laws change.

To view the BWC legislation tracker, click here

BWC Laws

Body-worn cameras are recording devices police officers wear as part of their uniforms to document what they see as they perform their duties. Body cameras continue to be a significant focus for state law makers as they consider and enact legislation to address police-community relations. To date, thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have created laws for body cameras. The body-worn camera laws database provides a list of all thirty-four states along with their specific BWC laws. 

The Benefits of BWCs

Many community stakeholders and criminal justice leaders have suggested placing body-worn cameras (BWCs) on police officers improves the civility of police-citizen encounters and enhances citizen perceptions of police transparency and legitimacy.  In response, many police departments have adopted this technology to improve the quality of policing in their communities. However, the existing evaluation evidence on the intended and unintended consequences of outfitting police officers with BWCs is still developing.

In View: Commentary from Body Worn Camera Experts

In the era of Law & Order, NCIS, Criminal Minds, and other television crime dramas, the public now expects clear and compelling recordings that document the commission of an alleged crime. At a minimum, they expect to see recordings of the arrival of the police on the scene and footage of the person charged with committing the crime. Body-worn camera (BWC) recordings dwell at the intersection of television drama and real life. But despite the popular imagination, BWC footage is not always the end-all and be-all of a case.

Beyond Arrest: Prosecutor and defense attorney perspectives

We are learning that the implementation of body worn camera (BWC) technology involves more than just the introduction of new technology into law enforcement. The implementation of body-worn cameras is complex and should involve other justice stakeholders such as prosecutors and defense attorneys. Some of the more important issues for police agencies as the implement their BWC programs are the sharing and transferring of video footage while maintaining a chain of custody, accurate resource planning, and understanding how to best use BWC footage for screening cases and/or charges.

BWC TTA Training Spotlight

Implementing body-worn cameras in a police agency has an impact on virtually every key aspect of police operations, including training, investigations, community relations, resource allocation, and more. With the growing adoption of body-worn cameras, the need for effective law enforcement training is paramount to help ensure that officers have the necessary knowledge and tools to confront the difficult tasks they encounter on a daily basis. The following considerations and resources will serve as helpful information in support of this challenge.