Resources about Technology
Many people know Wichita, Kansas, as the “air capital of the world,” or as the birthplace of both White Castle and Pizza Hut. Wyatt Earp also worked as a Wichita police officer long before the famed 1881 shootout at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. More recently, we recognize Wichita as an early adopter and innovator of police body-worn cameras (BWCs).
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 Hogansville, Georgia, Police Department first implemented BWCs in mid-2008 when former Chief of Police Moses Ector purchased two BWCs at an International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Conference for a trial run. When Hogansville first deployed the BWCs, the various shifts shared them. The BWCs could not remain functional, however, because of their charging requirements, so they were decommissioned and shelved for a few months. Chief Ector reissued one BWC to Sergeant Jeff Sheppard full time to test the effectiveness of the BWC.
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.
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.