BWCs and the Intent of Police Officers

Body Camera Footage Leads To Lower Judgments Of Intent Than Dash Camera Footage



Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2018) 


Broderick L. Turnera, Eugene M. Carusob, Mike A. Dilichc, and Neal J. Roesea


Abstract: Police departments use body-worn cameras (body cams) and dashboard cameras (dash cams) to monitor the activity of police officers in the field. Video from these cameras informs review of police conduct in disputed circumstances, often with the goal of determining an officer’s intent. Eight experiments (N = 2,119) reveal that body cam video of an incident results in lower observer judgments of intentionality than dash cam video of the same incident, an effect documented with both scripted videos and real police videos. This effect was due, in part, to variation in the visual salience of the focal actor: the body cam wearer is typically less visually salient when depicted in body versus dash cam video, which corresponds with lower observer intentionality judgments. In showing how visual salience of the focal actor may introduce unique effects on observer judgment, this research establishes an empirical platform that may inform public policy regarding surveillance of police conduct.

To read the entire report, click here. 


Resource Tags