Resources about Research on BWCs and Related Issues

BWCs and Citizen Perceptions

Body-worn cameras (BWCs) have become a central topic of policing reforms within the past few years. In the wake of recent high-profile use-of-force cases, many police departments accelerated their plans to implement BWCs. Conservative estimates suggest up to one-third of police departments in the U.S. are using BWCs, with that count increasing rapidly. The rapid adoption of BWCs has outpaced research into the impact that this technology has had on policing. Most studies of BWCs to date focus on two main outcomes, namely officer use of force and citizen complaints against officers.

Community Perceptions of Police Body- Worn Cameras

Despite relatively little extant research, efforts to expand the use of body-worn cameras (BWCs) in policing are increasing. Although recent research suggests positive impacts of BWCs on reducing police use-of-force and citizen complaints, little is known about community members’ perceptions of BWCs. The current study examined perceptions of residents of two Florida counties and found a large majority of respondents supported the use of BWCs. Structural equation modeling was utilized to examine factors that influence views of BWCs.

BWCs: The Effect on Police Activity and Citizen Encounters

Many have suggested that placing body-worn cameras (BWCs) on police officers improves the civility of police-citizen encounters and enhances citizen perceptions of police transparency and legitimacy. In response, many police departments have adopted this technology to address public concerns over the quality of policing in their communities. The existing program evaluation evidence on the intended and unintended consequences of outfitting police officers with BWCs is still developing, however.

Beyond Patrol 2: Courtroom Personnel, School Resource Officers, and University Police

This webinar focused on the use of BWCs beyond the police patrol function. In addition to police patrol functions, BWCs are being implemented in a variety of contexts including in courtrooms, city services agencies, schools, and university settings. During this webinar, BWC TTA Partner, Arizona State University (ASU), reviewed the findings from their report on the use of body-worn cameras in environments outside of the law enforcement setting.

Body-Worn Camera Research

This brief describes the results of the Urban Institute’s evaluation of the Milwaukee Police Department’s body-worn camera program. From October 2015 to December 2016, the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) deployed body-worn cameras (BWCs) in a phased rollout to all of its roughly 1,100 patrol officers. Through a randomized controlled trial of 504 officers, the Urban Institute found that those who wore BWCs conducted fewer subject stops and were less likely to receive a complaint than officers that did not receive cameras.

BWCs and Police Organisation and Practice

This study applies the technical/rational model of organisations to help explain the effects of body-worn cameras on police organisation and practice in a single police agency in the United States. Consistent with the technical/rational model, cameras had enhanced those peopleprocessing and environment-changing features of the police organisation which had tangible goals and well understood means for their accomplishment. In comparison, body-worn cameras were less successful in changing supervision and training, which were not well developed technically.

Body-Worn Camera Community Education and Creating Reasonable Expectations

The BWC TTA Team hosted a webinar on body-worn camera community education and creating reasonable expectations. This webinar provided information about how and why it is important to educate the community on the limitations and benefits of Body-Worn Cameras (BWCs). It also discussed the many considerations that must be taken into account when releasing BWC footage, including privacy concerns, victims’ rights, and on-going investigation needs.