Body-worn cameras (BWCs) have been presented as a technological innovation to cultivate greater civility in police–citizen interactions. Attempts have been made to clarify the impact of BWCs upon various policing outcomes, but the effects of BWCs on assaults against police has received scant research attention. Existing studies have been limited to a handful of jurisdictions with limited generalizability to a broader range of police organizations.
Resources about Technology
Part I: The Role of Body-Worn Cameras (BWCs) in Recent Public Protests in Larger Agencies: Benefits, Challenges and Solutions
Arizona State University (ASU), a BWC TTA project partner, conducted a survey asking BWC PIP sites about their experiences with the recent protests, the value that BWCs added, challenges and problems each agency experienced, and solutions their agency implemented to overcome those challenges and problems.
The Camden County, New Jersey, Police Department began its body-worn camera (BWC) program in 2015 with a pilot program. Camden County received its first Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) BWC Policy and Implementation (PIP) grant in 2016 and a second BWC grant in 2017. The agency employs around 650 employees, including 450 sworn officers, and is responsible for providing preventive and reactive policing services for the residents of Camden City, which covers 8.9 square miles and serves a population of 78,000.
Park City, Utah, is known for its beautiful alpine scenery, its magnificent skiing, and as host of the Sundance Film Festival, but it was also one of the first US jurisdictions to implement body worn cameras (BWCs). In 2013, the Park City Police Department (PCPD) decided BWCs might help its officers better serve their 8,000 full-time residents and the 100,000 tourists that descend on the city during peak season. They were right—after BWCs were deployed, uses of force dropped by 42 percent and complaints declined drastically. According to the city prosecutor, the courts also benefited.
A study by the Arizona State University (ASU) Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety published in March 2020 reported that only 34 percent of law enforcement agencies receiving funding through the Bureau of Justice Assistance Body-Worn Camera Policy and Implementation program provide refresher training for their personnel on the use of BWCs. However, a 2015 survey of agencies that had implemented BWCs demonstrated that officers desire and are in need of r
Video technology has been an important public safety tool for decades. From the earliest closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems in correctional facilities to in-dash cameras in police vehicles, video technology has been used to deter criminal behavior, document encounters or behaviors of interest, and to investigate and solve crimes. The current iteration of video technology in public safety is body-worn cameras (BWC). The use of BWCs dates back to 2005 when small-scale tests were conducted in police departments in the United Kingdom (Goodall, 2007).
In-View Commentary for the Commonwealth of Virginia Public Defenders: Effects of Police BWCs on Public Defenders
As the number of law enforcement agencies equipping officers with BWCs increases, so too has the amount of BWC research (Gaub & White, 2020; Lum, Stoltz, Koper, Scherer, & Scherer, 2019; White & Malm, 2020). However, these studies have almost exclusively focused on the effects of the technology on police behavior, policy, and practice. But BWCs have created a ripple effect throughout the criminal justice system, and the effects on other actors—especially in the courtroom—have been noticeably understudied.
Open to Interpretation: Confronting the Challenges of Understanding the Current State of Body-Worn Camera Research
In only five years, both the implementation of police body-worn cameras (BWCs) and
the evidence base evaluating the technology has diffused at a breakneck pace. As the
number of studies has increased, so too has the uncertainty surrounding BWCs and
their impact on various outcomes. In this commentary, we bring together the differing
viewpoints on the five existing summaries of the BWC literature, highlight the key
sources of contention, and make recommendations for BWC scholars and consumers