The research on police body-worn cameras (BWCs) has rapidly expanded to evaluate the technology’s impact on a range of police outcomes. Far fewer studies have addressed the various effects on downstream criminal justice actors, and those that do have focused almost entirely on prosecutors. Thus, public defenders have remained on the periphery of the police BWC discussion, despite playing an important role as an end-user of the technology.
Resources about Research on BWCs and Related Issues
Review of Michael D. White and Aili Malm, Cops, Cameras, and Crisis: The Potential and the Perils of Policy Body-Worn Cameras
Police body-worn cameras (BWCs) have proliferated rapidly throughout the U.S. since 2014, when several controversial police killings of Black citizens sparked demand for police reform. BWCs featured prominently among the recommendations made by President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and have since been touted as a tool that can increase police transparency, accountability, and legitimacy; improve police-citizen interactions; and aid in criminal investigations.
Body-worn cameras (BWCs) have received increasing empirical attention as more police agencies rapidly deploy this new technology among officers. Recent research estimates that around half (47.4%) of all agencies and a large majority of those with 500 or more officers (79.6%) have established an operational BWC program (Hyland, 2018). BWCs can improve police operations by providing objective, recorded accounts of police-community interactions that can provide valuable evidence in investigations.
Do the Effects of Police Body-Worn Cameras on Use of Force and Complaints Change Over Time? Results From a Panel Analysis in the Milwaukee Police Department.
Police body-worn cameras (BWCs) can help improve transparency, accountability, and policing behaviors. This study extends prior BWC research by using a panel analysis design with a measure of treatment duration to examine how the effects of BWCs change over time.
Part II: The Role of Body-Worn Cameras (BWCs) in Recent Public Protests in Smaller Agencies: Benefits, Challenges and Solutions Webinar
It is important to acknowledge that the implementation of body-worn cameras (BWCs) affects various operations and administration, as well as internal and external stakeholders, in significant ways. We are in a critical time in history where this technology can assist law enforcement agencies during protests and other First Amendment events.
A randomized controlled trial of the impact of body-worn camera activation on the outcomes of individual incidents
Body-worn cameras can’t replace an officer’s perceptions, but they can be extraordinarily valuable when they confirm the presence of weapons, capture resistance, and verify de-escalation attempts. What’s more, it is expected that the presence of cameras encourages people on both sides of the lens to be the best version of themselves as they interact.
The research base on the impact of police body-worn cameras (BWCs) has grown rapidly, and, over time, the results have become increasingly mixed. This development poses two problems:
This Campbell systematic summarizes the evidence from 30 studies of the effects of BWCs on several officer and citizen behaviors.
The majority of studies are from the United States.
For a two page summary on the resource, click here.
Body-worn cameras and transparency: Experimental evidence of inconsistency in police executive decision-making
Body-worn cameras (BWC) have diffused rapidly throughout policing as a means of promoting transparency and accountability. Yet, whether to release BWC footage to the public remains largely up to the discretion of police executives, and we know little about how they interpret and respond to BWC footage – particularly footage involving critical incidents.