In the past five years, body-worn cameras (BWCs) have disseminated widely and rapidly to police departments across the United States (White & Malm, 2020). In 2013, only one-third of agencies had some form of BWC program, most of which were small-scale pilot programs of the relatively new technology (Reaves, 2015). By 2016, about half of agencies had BWCs, including nearly 80% of large agencies (more than 500 sworn personnel) (Hyland, 2018). The push for BWCs came at a time when there was a severe dearth of research from which to draw guidance or best practices.
On November 19th at 12:00 PM ET, the BWC TTA provider hosted a webinar on body-worn cameras (BWC) in the medical field and discussed how these programs can work within HIPAA. The webinar provided insights and experiences regarding how body-worn camera programs have or have not impacted police agencies as they relate to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Since the introduction of HIPAA, many police officers have not received training on the act or operate under misinformed assumptions on how HIPAA relates to obtaining information in a medical setting.
Digital evidence integration has become an emerging topic of discussion as law enforcement agencies around the country increasingly deploy body-worn cameras (BWC). Linking data repositories of videos with the relevant case files in order for them to be usable for investigations and prosecutions has become a challenge for many agencies and their justice stakeholders. In direct response to this emerging trend and need, the BWC Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) program has developed various resources that address this topic.
This research studies how prosecutors and public defenders (PDs) in three counties adapt to body-worn cameras (BWCs) in their everyday practice and the perceived value of BWC video as evidence in their cases. More specifically, the researchers consider prosecutorial and PD notions regarding the effect of BWC footage on jurors’ expectations and the effect of BWCs on juror decision making.
In 2017, the Fairfax County (Virginia) Police Department, known as FCPD, decided to launch a pilot implementation of body-worn cameras (BWCs) to learn what the technology involved, the response of its officers to it, what community members and local organization leaders would think, and the changes in policing practices and outcomes that would occur. Some police agencies in the Metropolitan Washington, DC area had already adopted BWCs and there was a push nation-wide to implement them quickly in the face of numerous high-proﬁle and controversial interactions between police and citizens.
On August 28, 2019, the BWC TTA provider hosted a webinar on the evidentiary value of body-worn camera (BWC) footage. This webinar focused on the perspectives and experiences of Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs) and Public Defenders (PDs) about the role BWC video footage plays in their respective work streams. This webinar also described several benefits and disadvantages of the use of BWCs in a court of law, focusing on the context of time, expectations, and anticipated consequences.
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.
As the implementation of Body-Worn Cameras (BWCs) continues to expand to police agencies across the country, officers are increasingly accepting and, in many cases, demanding the cameras. Police recognize that BWC technology is here to stay, and the majority of communities expect their police departments to adopt them. Still, officers, agencies, and police unions do not uniformly embrace BWCs. Challenges and obstacles remain.