This page features commentary from BWC experts, including researchers, practitioners, and policymakers.

Current Commentary

Prosecutorial and Public Defender Perceptions: Anticipated Impact of Police Body Worn Cameras on Jurors' Decision Making

O. Nicholas Robertson, John D. McCluskey, Shakierah S. Smith, Craig D. Uchida, and Damon Mosler

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. The resulting article reviews the literature with a focus on decision making, the role uncertainty plays in negotiation, and how new evidence, such as the CSI effect (unrealistic citizen/juror expectations about the types and extent of forensic evidence, or in this context, video, available in a criminal case), is anticipated to influence juries and jurors. The CSI effect, resulting from an overwhelming amount of crime television shows, explains the widespread phenomenon of civilians’ misperceptions of the practicality of the criminal justice system. Qualitative results drawn from in-depth interviews inform quantitative analyses from surveys. This is a summary of a larger report, scheduled for release in the coming months.

Methods

Read the full commentary here.

 

Previous Commentaries

Title Author Preview Date Published
In View Commentary: Understanding the Costs and Benefits of Implementing a BWC Program

Elliot Harkavy, BWC TTA Technology Advisor, CNA and Dr. Chip Coldren, BWC TTA Program Director, CNA

 


Considering BWC Costs and Benefits


Recent news reports have discussed the costs and benefits of body-worn cameras (BWCs). A Washington Post article on January 21, 2019, reported that some police departments have abandoned their BWC programs, primarily because of the high cost of storing BWC footage files....

August 2019
In View Commentary: Body-Worn Cameras – Understanding the Union Perspective

Sean Smoot, Police Union Attorney and law enforcement subject expert

 


Introduction


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.[1] Police recognize that BWC technology is here to stay, and the majority of communities expect...

July 2019
In View Commentary: Establishing Officer BWC Buy-In

Thomas Woodmansee, Senior Advisor at CNA, BWC subject expert, and former police officer and Dr. Renee Mitchell, Sergeant and BWC subject expert, Sacramento, California, Police Department

 


Introduction


As the implementation of body-worn cameras (BWCs) continues in police agencies across the country, there appears to be an increase in acceptance of—and, in many cases, demand for—the technology by officers. Police recognize that BWC technology is here to stay and a majority of communities expect their police departments to adopt them. Still...

May 2019
In View Commentary: The Evidentiary Value of Body-Worn Camera Footage: A Survey of Prosecutors and Public Defenders

Craig D. Uchida, BWC TTA Senior Advisor and Subject Expert

 

This In View Commentary examines the perspectives and attitudes of Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs) and Public Defenders (PDs) about body-worn camera (BWC) footage. The study describes their views regarding several benefits and disadvantages of the use of BWCs in a court of law, specifically focusing on the context of time, expectations, and anticipated consequences. This is a summary of a...

April 2019
In View: Body-Worn Cameras in Collegiate Law Enforcement Agencies

Janne E. Gaub, Ph.D., BWC TTA Subject Expert

Body-worn cameras (BWCs) have spread rapidly to municipal and collegiate police agencies across the country. The research and guidance on BWCs, however, has focused primarily on their implementation in municipal agencies. To date, only one study assesses their use in a collegiate setting.[1] Though collegiate agencies are similar to...

March 2019
In View Commentary: Embracing Communication with the Public and Media: A Key Component of a Successful Body-Worn Camera Program

Laura McElroy, Subject Expert and Communications Strategist 

 

Officer-involved critical incidents often lead to turmoil and chaos for a community. They can leave officers feeling frustrated and even resentful of the perceived lack of support and leave citizens feeling angry and suspicious of their police department. While there is no easy fix for this type of divide, there are steps an agency can take to heal after such an...

January 2019
In View Commentary: Implementing a BWC Program in a Tribal Community

Samantha Rhinerson, CNA Body-Worn Camera Training and Technical Assistance Analyst and Resource Coordinator

The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Body-Worn Camera (BWC) Policy and Implementation Program (PIP) has awarded grants to seven tribal communities across the United States from 2015 through 2018, totaling just over $589,000. Grantee departments have used the funds to purchase approximately 405 BWCs. This In View spotlights the experience of the Little Traverse...

December 2018
In View Commentary: Regional Approaches to Body-Worn Camera Implementation

Lily Robin, CNA Body-Worn Camera Training and Technical Assistance Analyst, with contributions from Joseph Durso, Analyst at Regional Justice Information Service (REJIS), and Chief Jeremy Ihler, Bellefonte Neighbors Police Department in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Regional Justice Information Service (REJIS) received a FY 2017 Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Body-Worn Camera (BWC) Policy and Implementation Program (PIP) grant on behalf of eight law enforcement agencies in the St. Louis metropolitan area. REJIS is an Information Technology (IT) firm that serves government agencies, with a heavy focus on police departments. REJIS primarily serves...

November 2018
In View Commentary: Community Voices On Body-Worn Cameras

Stephen Rickman, BWC TTA Lead and Subject Expert

Each jurisdiction and law enforcement agency that deploys body-worn cameras (BWCs) has a unique history, police culture, and circumstances. Community voices, like advocacy and faith-based organizations, police advisory groups, the media, social service organizations, and other community stakeholders, are important to consider when deploying BWCs. In some jurisdictions, these voices have...

October 2018
In View Commentary: The Importance of Developing Your Own BWC Training

Thomas Woodmansee, Senior Advisor at CNA, BWC subject expert, and former police officer

Police officers tend to have a love/hate relationship with training. Announce that there will be an Active Shooter Scenario-Based Tactical Training, and some will be giddy while others will dread it. The same goes for pursuit training, firearms training, emergency vehicle operations, investigations, and other training opportunities. One consistent response that I...

August 2018
In View Commentary: Practices from the Field

Sergeant Jeff Sheppard, Hogansville, GA Police Department 

 

The Hogansville, GA, Police Department first implemented body-worn cameras in the middle of 2008 when former Chief of Police Moses Ector purchased two body cameras for a trail run at an International Chiefs of Police Conference. When we first deployed the cameras, there were two that were shared by the shifts. The cameras were not able to keep up with the charging requirements to remain...

August 2018
In View Commentary: Releasing BWC Video to the Public: Policy Implications

Dr. Craig D. Uchida, President, Justice & Security Strategies, Inc., Robert Haas, former Commissioner, Cambridge, Massachusetts Police Department, and Shellie E. Solomon, Chief Executive Officer, Justice & Security Strategies, Inc.

 

In April 2018,the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and its civilian-member Board of Police Commissioners made a major change to its body-worn camera (BWC) policy: the department will release video footage in ”critical incidents.”


A year in the making, the new policy applies to: 1) officer-involved shootings, 2) a use...

July 2018
In View: Body-Worn Camera Auto-Triggering Technologies

Elliot Harkavy, BWC TTA Technology Advisor, CNA

There have been a number of high profile incidents in recent years in which officers failed to activate their cameras until after the most critical moments have passed.  For instance, in July 2017 Justine Diamond was shot in Minneapolis after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault. [1]  In September 2016, an unarmed man...

June 2018
In View: Body-Worn Camera Compliance

Thomas Woodmansee, Senior Advisor at CNA, BWC subject expert and former police officer, with contributions from BWC experts Orlando Cuevas and Charles Stephenson

 

When police officers hear or read the word, “compliance” as it relates to policy, what often comes to mind is, “what do I have to do to avoid getting into trouble?” For various reasons, compliance appears to be somewhat more challenging for police agencies when it comes to their body-worn camera (BWC) programs. We are all learning that introducing BWCs entails much...

May 2018
In View: BWC Community Education and Creating Reasonable Expectations

Tom Woodmansee, BWC TTA Senior Advisor at CNA and fomer Police Officer

As more and more police agencies across the country implement body-worn camera (BWC) programs, many feel that it is just a matter of time before this relatively new technology becomes an expected norm for the police. BWC programs have already demonstrated that implementation and outcome expectations are far more complicated and challenging than initially expected....

March 2018
In View: Key Trends in Body-Worn Camera Policies

Dr. Michael White, BWC TTA Co-Director and Professor at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University 

 

The CNA Corporation, Arizona State University (ASU), and Justice and Security Strategies (JSS) provide training and technical assistance (TTA) to law enforcement agencies that have received funding for body-worn cameras (BWCs) through the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) BWC Policy and Implementation Program (PIP). Administrative policy review is a central...
January 2018
In View: What Have We Learned from The BWC Implementation Program So Far?

Denise Rodriguez, BWC TTA Project Manager and Research Scientist, CNA, Institute for Public Research

 

In FY 2015, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) funded the Body-Worn Camera (BWC) Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) program to help police agencies and communities implement their BWC Policy Implementation Program (PIP) initiatives and learn lessons from those initiatives for the benefit of other agencies and communities. Since then, the BWC TTA team has responded to over 200 TTA...

December 2017
In View: BWCs and the Results of Randomized Experiments

James R. "Chip" Coldren, Jr., BWC TTA Director and Managing Director of Justice Programs, CNA, Institute for Public Research

Recent years have seen a number of new research studies addressing the effects of body-worn cameras (BWCs). Several of these studies implemented randomized controlled designs, the strongest designs available to detect the effect of BWCs with high confidence. Under randomized designs, researchers randomly assign an intervention (in this case, BWCs) to a treatment group of officers (those with...
November 2017
In View: Police Body-Worn Cameras: Perspectives from External Stakeholders

Natalie Todak, Associate Professor, University of Alabama; Janne E. Gaub, Assistant Professor, East Carolina University; and Michael D. White, Associate Director, Arizona State University Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety 

Changes made within policing carry significant downstream implications for the rest of the criminal justice system and for surrounding communities. The relatively recent expansion in police body-worn camera (BWC) programs across U.S. police agencies represents one such change that will have a wide impact on stakeholders both inside and outside the system. We investigated perceptions of BWCs...

September 2017
In View: The Impact of BWCs from a Defense Attorney's Perspective

Erika Bierma, Senior Associate at Stafford Rosenbaum LLP, Criminal Defense Attorney in the Eastern & Western Districts of Wisconsin and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

In the era of Law & Order, NCIS, Criminal Minds, and other television crime dramas, the public now expects clear and compelling recordings that document the commission of an alleged crime. At a minimum, they expect to see recordings of the arrival of the police on the scene and footage of the person charged with committing the crime. Body-worn camera (BWC)...

August 2017
In View:The Impact of BWCs From a Prosecutor's Perspective

Damon Mosler, Deputy District Attorney, San Diego County, California

Upon learning that a local law enforcement agency was preparing to deploy body-worn cameras (BWCs), we as prosecutors had to wonder what this new evidence would mean to our presentation of cases in court. Would it mean more or less work? More or fewer trials? Better trial outcomes?


In its simplest form, footage from BWCs could be considered just another type of evidence collected by law...

July 2017
In View: Addressing Police Accountability With BWCs and Victims Privacy

Mai Fernandez, Executive Director of the National Center for Victims of Crime

Although body-worn cameras (BWCs) can increase police accountability, they also can encroach on victim privacy and interfere with confidential communications. BWCs record sensitive information, the public release of which could be emotionally devastating and/or dangerous to a victim. The goal of every police department is to develop BWC policies and procedures that protect a victim’s right to...

June 2017
In View: The Importance of BWCs from the Chief's Perspective

Harold Medlock, Chief (ret.) Fayetteville, NC and BWC TTA Subject Matter Expert

In summer 2015, my department received a complaint from a citizen that she had been sexually assaulted by one of my officers while the officer cited her for larceny. The complainant would not come to police headquarters, but instead provided her account by phone. The Internal Affairs Commander began an investigation and, two hours later, I learned that the officer was one of three in our...

March 2017
In View: The Importance of BWCs from the Officer's Perspective

Wayne A Alsup, Research & Planning, San Antonio Police Department

Police cruisers across America; showcase such popular catch phrases as, “To Protect and To Serve” or, “Serving Our Community”.  Perhaps replacing these phrases with a more tangible creed would be appropriate, such as, “Transparency, Accountability, and Officer Compliance.”  With departments racing to outfit their officers with body worn camera’s (BWCs), there are not only concerns about...

March 2017
In View: Interpreting BWC Video Footage

Seth Stoughton, Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law

Following the intense public scrutiny of law enforcement since the summer of 2014, community members, politicians, and police executives alike have called for the adoption of body-worn camera (BWC) systems.  There have been a variety of reasons offered in support of body-worn cameras, all of which coalesce around advancing three potential benefits: a signaling benefit, a behavioral change...

January 2017
In View: A Response to President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing in Relation to BWCs

Dr. Michael White, Co-Director and Subject Matter Expert on the BWC TTA Team, Professor at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University 

The recent review of the evidence supporting Pillar 3 Recommendations in the final report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing raises several important issues related to police body-worn cameras (BWCs). The first issue involves the small but rapidly growing body of research on police. When the President’s Task Force final report was released in May 2015, there were...

December 2016
In View: North Carolina's BWC Law

Laura McElroy, Technical advisor for U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs & BWC TTA SME

A recent survey shows almost all large police agencies in the United States are either using body-worn cameras (BWCs) or in the process of implementing the technology).i Many of these agencies give similar explanations for why they have chosen to embrace this new law enforcement tool—“… to gather evidence, increase transparency, and bolster public confidence,” according to...

November 2016
In View: BWCs and Their Ability to Reduce Complaints against Officers

Dr. Barak Ariel, Jerry Lee Fellow in Experimental Criminology and Lecturer in Experimental Criminology, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge

A recent study published by the University of Cambridge, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, RAND, and several active-duty police officers in the journal...

October 2016
In View: BWCs and Police Accountability

Dr. Scott H. Decker, Foundation Professor at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University & BWC TTA Subject Matter Expert. 

Concerns about racial disparity in police actions have prompted a large number of responses from governmental, advocacy, and police groups. Various reports have documented such disparities in the patterns of traffic stops, stop and frisk searches, arrests, officer-involved shootings, and deaths in custody. Efforts to understand and respond to the apparent disparities in how minority citizens...

September 2016
In View: Commentary on the BWC Policy Report on Civil and Human Rights

Michael D. White, Ph.D., Arizona State University & BWC TTA Co-Director

This week the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and Upturn released a scorecard that evaluates the civil rights safeguards of police body-worn camera (BWC) programs in 50 U.S. cities. The Leadership Conference scorecard rates BWC policy on 8 criteria that are directly related to citizen rights and citizen privacy. We read their report with interest, as several of the agencies in...

August 2016
In View: How BWCs Can Be a Risk Management Lens to Use of Force

Dan Zehnder, Lieutenant for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department & BWC TTA Subject Matter Expert

Body-worn cameras (BWCs) are rapidly being deployed in police departments around the country. These deployments come with a host of expectations, as well as challenges. Departments shouldn’t overlook, or underestimate, the simple premise that the day the first BWCs are deployed they begin to document department operations, policy, practices, and training in a detailed manner not previously...

June 2016
In View:Use of Force Vs. Assaults Against Officers

Michael D. White, Ph.D., Arizona State University, BWC TTA Co-Director

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, RAND Europe, and their colleagues (Ariel et al. 2016a, 2016b) published two papers this week that explore this provocative question. The research designs employed are rigorous, the data are sound, and the results are intriguing. I applaud the researchers for making valuable contributions to the evidence base on body-worn cameras and their impact....

May 2016