Resources About Legal Issues, Legislation, & Court Cases

BWCs and Drug and Alcohol Cases

Drug and alcohol offences represent a significant portion of police work. Officers commonly rely on subjective indicators of intoxication, and prosecutors depend on officer evidence collection, written reports, and testimony at trial. Police body-worn cameras (BWCs) have diffused widely in policing partly due to their perceived evidentiary value, but the extent to which BWCs affect the adjudication of such offences remains unanswered. The current study explores this question with 7,000 misdemeanour cases from Tempe (Arizona), filed from 2014 to 2017.

BWCs and Eyewitness Cooperation

Objectives The current research adds to the literature addressing police body-worn cameras (BWCs) by experimentally evaluating their effect on an interaction that has, to date, received relatively little systematic, empirical attention: police–eyewitness interactions. Although research suggests that BWCs generally have positive effects, legal scholars and media professionals have long argued that deploying cameras in this context may backfire, especially by chilling public willingness to speak with police.

BWCs in the Decision to File

Spurred by support from a presidential commission (The President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing ("Task Force"), 2015) and over 53 million dollars in funding from the U.S. Justice Department in 2015 and 2016 (Department of Justice, 2015, 2016), the use of Body Worn Cameras (BWCs) by law enforcement agencies has grown rapidly in the U.S. as well as across the world (Cubitt, Lesic, Myers, & Corry, 2016). Evaluations of officer perceptions of BWCs and the impact of BWCs on officer behavior is also increasing rapidly.

New Orleans Police Department Stops, Searches, Arrests, and Use of Force Audit Forms

The New Orleans, Louisiana, Police Department provided examples of its Stops, Searches, Arrests, Use of Force, and Procedural Justice Audit Form and Use of Force Reporting and Force Statements Audit Form to assist agencies interested in implementing similar audit and reporting practices. 

To view the New Orleans Stops, Searches, Arrests, Use of Force, and Procedural Justice Audit Form, click here.

BWCs and Prosecutors

As police departments across the United States embrace the use of police body-worn cameras (“BWCs”), it is imperative that prosecutors be involved in the uptake process as early as possible. The cameras will inevitably capture a great deal of evidentiary material that will be used in every type of criminal prosecution. Thus, systems and policies must be developed to ensure that this evidence is properly captured and delivered to the prosecutor in a timely and usable way.

In View Commentary: The Evidentiary Value of Body-Worn Camera Footage: A Survey of Prosecutors and Public Defenders

This In View Commentary examines the perspectives and attitudes of Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs) and Public Defenders (PDs) about body-worn camera (BWC) footage. The study describes their views regarding several benefits and disadvantages of the use of BWCs in a court of law, specifically focusing on the context of time, expectations, and anticipated consequences. This is a summary of a larger report, which can be found here.

Evidentiary Value of BWC Footage

The value of body-worn camera (BWC) footage as evidence and the challenges and opportunities it affords case processing are, as yet, relatively unexplored. The current research examines the impact of BWC footage on prosecutors and defense attorneys in three jurisdictions: Monroe County, New York; San Diego County, California; and Travis County, Texas. We explore variations across the two groups (assistant district attorneys/public defenders) in terms of time, expectations, and anticipated consequences of BWC on their respective work in processing cases in local courts.