This page features commentary from BWC experts, including researchers, practitioners, and policymakers.

Current Commentary

In View Commentary: Implementing a BWC Program in a Tribal Community

Samantha Rhinerson, CNA Body-Worn Camera Training and Technical Assistance Analyst and Resource Coordinator

 

The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Body-Worn Camera (BWC) Policy and Implementation Program (PIP) has awarded grants to seven tribal communities across the United States from 2015 through 2018, totaling just over $589,000. Grantee departments have used the funds to purchase approximately 405 BWCs. This In View spotlights the experience of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians Tribal Police Department (LTBB PD), Michigan.  The LTBB PD is a federally recognized Indian tribe that received a FY 2016 BJA BWC PIP grant. LTBB serves approximately 4,600 citizens living in two counties—Charlevoix and Emmet counties. LTBB PD patrols over all 337 square miles of the reservation, which includes 103 square miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, several major highways, the Great Lakes Waterway, and international boundaries. LTBB PD currently employs 15 sworn officers and has an average of 2,300 citizen contacts and 3,600 calls for service each year.

Read the full commentary here.

 

Previous Commentaries

Title Author Preview
In View Commentary: Regional Approaches to Body-Worn Camera Implementation

Lily Robin, CNA Body-Worn Camera Training and Technical Assistance Analyst, with contributions from Joseph Durso, Analyst at Regional Justice Information Service (REJIS), and Chief Jeremy Ihler, Bellefonte Neighbors Police Department in St. Louis, Missouri.

 


The Regional Justice Information Service (REJIS) received a FY 2017 Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Body-Worn Camera (BWC) Policy and Implementation Program (PIP) grant on behalf of eight law enforcement agencies in the St. Louis metropolitan area. REJIS is an Information Technology (IT) firm that serves government agencies, with a heavy focus on police departments. REJIS primarily...

In View Commentary: Community Voices On Body-Worn Cameras

Stephen Rickman, BWC TTA Lead and Subject Expert

 


Each jurisdiction and law enforcement agency that deploys body-worn cameras (BWCs) has a unique history, police culture, and circumstances. Community voices, like advocacy and faith-based organizations, police advisory groups, the media, social service organizations, and other community stakeholders, are important to consider when deploying BWCs. In some jurisdictions, these voices...

In View Commentary: The Importance of Developing Your Own BWC Training

Thomas Woodmansee, Senior Advisor at CNA, BWC subject expert, and former police officer

 


Police officers tend to have a love/hate relationship with training. Announce that there will be an Active Shooter Scenario-Based Tactical Training, and some will be giddy while others will dread it. The same goes for pursuit training, firearms training, emergency vehicle operations, investigations, and other training opportunities. One consistent response...

In View Commentary: Practices from the Field

Sergeant Jeff Sheppard, Hogansville, GA Police Department 

 

The Hogansville, GA, Police Department first implemented body-worn cameras in the middle of 2008 when former Chief of Police Moses Ector purchased two body cameras for a trail run at an International Chiefs of Police Conference. When we first deployed the cameras, there were two that were shared by the shifts. The cameras were not able to keep up with the charging requirements to remain...

In View Commentary: Releasing BWC Video to the Public: Policy Implications

Dr. Craig D. Uchida, President, Justice & Security Strategies, Inc., Robert Haas, former Commissioner, Cambridge, Massachusetts Police Department, and Shellie E. Solomon, Chief Executive Officer, Justice & Security Strategies, Inc.

 

In April 2018,the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and its civilian-member Board of Police Commissioners made a major change to its body-worn camera (BWC) policy: the department will release video footage in ”critical incidents.”


A year in the making, the new policy applies to: 1) officer-involved shootings, 2) a use...

In View: Body-Worn Camera Auto-Triggering Technologies

Elliot Harkavy, BWC TTA Technology Advisor, CNA

There have been a number of high profile incidents in recent years in which officers failed to activate their cameras until after the most critical moments have passed.  For instance, in July 2017 Justine Diamond was shot in Minneapolis after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault. [1]  In September 2016, an unarmed man...

In View: Body-Worn Camera Compliance

Thomas Woodmansee, Senior Advisor at CNA, BWC subject expert and former police officer, with contributions from BWC experts Orlando Cuevas and Charles Stephenson

 

When police officers hear or read the word, “compliance” as it relates to policy, what often comes to mind is, “what do I have to do to avoid getting into trouble?” For various reasons, compliance appears to be somewhat more challenging for police agencies when it comes to their body-worn camera (BWC) programs. We are all learning that introducing BWCs entails much...

In View: BWC Community Education and Creating Reasonable Expectations

Tom Woodmansee, BWC TTA Senior Advisor at CNA and fomer Police Officer

 


As more and more police agencies across the country implement body-worn camera (BWC) programs, many feel that it is just a matter of time before this relatively new technology becomes an expected norm for the police. BWC programs have already demonstrated that implementation and outcome expectations are far more complicated and challenging than initially...

In View: Key Trends in Body-Worn Camera Policies

Dr. Michael White, BWC TTA Co-Director and Professor at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University 

 

The CNA Corporation, Arizona State University (ASU), and Justice and Security Strategies (JSS) provide training and technical assistance (TTA) to law enforcement agencies that have received funding for body-worn cameras (BWCs) through the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) BWC Policy and Implementation Program (PIP). Administrative policy review is a central...
In View: What Have We Learned from The BWC Implementation Program So Far?

Denise Rodriguez, BWC TTA Project Manager and Research Scientist, CNA, Institute for Public Research

 

In FY 2015, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) funded the Body-Worn Camera (BWC) Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) program to help police agencies and communities implement their BWC Policy Implementation Program (PIP) initiatives and learn lessons from those initiatives for the benefit of other agencies and communities. Since then, the BWC TTA team has responded to over 200 TTA...

In View: BWCs and the Results of Randomized Experiments

James R. "Chip" Coldren, Jr., BWC TTA Director and Managing Director of Justice Programs, CNA, Institute for Public Research

Recent years have seen a number of new research studies addressing the effects of body-worn cameras (BWCs). Several of these studies implemented randomized controlled designs, the strongest designs available to detect the effect of BWCs with high confidence. Under randomized designs, researchers randomly assign an intervention (in this case, BWCs) to a treatment group of officers (those with...
In View: Police Body-Worn Cameras: Perspectives from External Stakeholders

Natalie Todak, Associate Professor, University of Alabama; Janne E. Gaub, Assistant Professor, East Carolina University; and Michael D. White, Associate Director, Arizona State University Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety 

Changes made within policing carry significant downstream implications for the rest of the criminal justice system and for surrounding communities. The relatively recent expansion in police body-worn camera (BWC) programs across U.S. police agencies represents one such change that will have a wide impact on stakeholders both inside and outside the system. We investigated perceptions of BWCs...

In View: The Impact of BWCs from a Defense Attorney's Perspective

Erika Bierma, Senior Associate at Stafford Rosenbaum LLP, Criminal Defense Attorney in the Eastern & Western Districts of Wisconsin and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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)...

In View:The Impact of BWCs From a Prosecutor's Perspective

Damon Mosler, Deputy District Attorney, San Diego County, California

Upon learning that a local law enforcement agency was preparing to deploy body-worn cameras (BWCs), we as prosecutors had to wonder what this new evidence would mean to our presentation of cases in court. Would it mean more or less work? More or fewer trials? Better trial outcomes?


In its simplest form, footage from BWCs could be considered just another type of evidence collected by law...

In View: The Impact of BWCs From a Police Officer's Perspective

Thomas Woodmansee, Senior Advisor, CNA, and former police officer

A Police Perspective


Perhaps no other new technology in American policing history has created such high expectations of establishing police credibility and accountability as have body-worn cameras (BWCs).  But what impact will such expectations have on investigations and trials? In discussions I have had with law enforcement officers around the country, I have learned that most...

In View: Addressing Police Accountability With BWCs and Victims Privacy

Mai Fernandez, Executive Director of the National Center for Victims of Crime

Although body-worn cameras (BWCs) can increase police accountability, they also can encroach on victim privacy and interfere with confidential communications. BWCs record sensitive information, the public release of which could be emotionally devastating and/or dangerous to a victim. The goal of every police department is to develop BWC policies and procedures that protect a victim’s right to...

In View: The Importance of BWCs from the Chief's Perspective

Harold Medlock, Chief (ret.) Fayetteville, NC and BWC TTA Subject Matter Expert

In summer 2015, my department received a complaint from a citizen that she had been sexually assaulted by one of my officers while the officer cited her for larceny. The complainant would not come to police headquarters, but instead provided her account by phone. The Internal Affairs Commander began an investigation and, two hours later, I learned that the officer was one of three in our...

In View: The Importance of BWCs from the Officer's Perspective

Wayne A Alsup, Research & Planning, San Antonio Police Department

Police cruisers across America; showcase such popular catch phrases as, “To Protect and To Serve” or, “Serving Our Community”.  Perhaps replacing these phrases with a more tangible creed would be appropriate, such as, “Transparency, Accountability, and Officer Compliance.”  With departments racing to outfit their officers with body worn camera’s (BWCs), there are not only concerns about...

In View: Interpreting BWC Video Footage

Seth Stoughton, Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law

Following the intense public scrutiny of law enforcement since the summer of 2014, community members, politicians, and police executives alike have called for the adoption of body-worn camera (BWC) systems.  There have been a variety of reasons offered in support of body-worn cameras, all of which coalesce around advancing three potential benefits: a signaling benefit, a behavioral change...

In View: A Response to President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing in Relation to BWCs

Dr. Michael White, Co-Director and Subject Matter Expert on the BWC TTA Team, Professor at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University 

The recent review of the evidence supporting Pillar 3 Recommendations in the final report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing raises several important issues related to police body-worn cameras (BWCs). The first issue involves the small but rapidly growing body of research on police. When the President’s Task Force final report was released in May 2015, there were...

In View: North Carolina's BWC Law

Laura McElroy, Technical advisor for U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs & BWC TTA SME

A recent survey shows almost all large police agencies in the United States are either using body-worn cameras (BWCs) or in the process of implementing the technology).i Many of these agencies give similar explanations for why they have chosen to embrace this new law enforcement tool—“… to gather evidence, increase transparency, and bolster public confidence,” according to...

In View: BWCs and Their Ability to Reduce Complaints against Officers

Dr. Barak Ariel, Jerry Lee Fellow in Experimental Criminology and Lecturer in Experimental Criminology, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge

A recent study published by the University of Cambridge, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, RAND, and several active-duty police officers in the journal...

In View: BWCs and Police Accountability

Dr. Scott H. Decker, Foundation Professor at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University & BWC TTA Subject Matter Expert. 

Concerns about racial disparity in police actions have prompted a large number of responses from governmental, advocacy, and police groups. Various reports have documented such disparities in the patterns of traffic stops, stop and frisk searches, arrests, officer-involved shootings, and deaths in custody. Efforts to understand and respond to the apparent disparities in how minority citizens...

In View: Commentary on the BWC Policy Report on Civil and Human Rights

Michael D. White, Ph.D., Arizona State University & BWC TTA Co-Director

This week the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and Upturn released a scorecard that evaluates the civil rights safeguards of police body-worn camera (BWC) programs in 50 U.S. cities. The Leadership Conference scorecard rates BWC policy on 8 criteria that are directly related to citizen rights and citizen privacy. We read their report with interest, as several of the agencies in...

In View: How BWCs Can Be a Risk Management Lens to Use of Force

Dan Zehnder, Lieutenant for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department & BWC TTA Subject Matter Expert

Body-worn cameras (BWCs) are rapidly being deployed in police departments around the country. These deployments come with a host of expectations, as well as challenges. Departments shouldn’t overlook, or underestimate, the simple premise that the day the first BWCs are deployed they begin to document department operations, policy, practices, and training in a detailed manner not previously...

In View:Use of Force Vs. Assaults Against Officers

Michael D. White, Ph.D., Arizona State University, BWC TTA Co-Director

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, RAND Europe, and their colleagues (Ariel et al. 2016a, 2016b) published two papers this week that explore this provocative question. The research designs employed are rigorous, the data are sound, and the results are intriguing. I applaud the researchers for making valuable contributions to the evidence base on body-worn cameras and their impact....