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EXPLORING THE IMPACT OF BODY-WORN CAMERAS ON DOWNSTREAM CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND EXTERNAL STAKEHOLDERS

Description

Body-worn camera technology is a relatively new player in the field of criminal justice. As much as they are being reported on or discussed, in reality, body-worn cameras have not

Body-worn camera technology is a relatively new player in the field of criminal justice. As much as they are being reported on or discussed, in reality, body-worn cameras have not been in use long enough to have strong empirical support. Recent studies outlined some of the perceived benefits and costs of the body-worn cameras. Research has been done on both officer and citizen perceptions of the cameras, but little has been done in regards to other stakeholders, especially those in the criminal justice system. This study takes 13 interviews of community and criminal justice stakeholders in Tempe, Arizona and examines trends to identify unifying themes. The study found that 11 out of 13 stakeholders believed that the positives of the body-worn cameras outweighed the negatives. There was agreement among the parties that the strongest benefit of the cameras would be the transparency that it provides police departments, while most regarded the largest negative to be a lack of available resources to deal with the amount of data produced. As this is a small qualitative dataset, further research should be conducted about stakeholder perceptions in other cities, as well as solutions to some of the concerns raised by Tempe interviewees.

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Date Created
  • 2016-12

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Police Officer Perceptions of Body Worn Cameras

Description

In the wake of in-custody deaths of civilians at the hands of police officers, body-worn cameras (BWCs) have entered the national conversation as a possible tool to increase officer accountability,

In the wake of in-custody deaths of civilians at the hands of police officers, body-worn cameras (BWCs) have entered the national conversation as a possible tool to increase officer accountability, build trust, and potentially prevent these incidents. Current research looks promising, as rates of complaints filed against officers tend to drop after BWCs are implemented; however, any research surrounding the subject is still new and there are few existing empirical studies that focus on BWCs. The success or failure of BWC pilot programs going forward will have a large influence on future law enforcement policy and officer-citizen interactions. In this study, surveys were administered to officers from the Spokane, WA Police Department throughout 2015 and the Tempe, AZ Police Department from 2015 to 2016. The surveys gathered officer opinions on a range of issues, such as how they believe citizens and officers will act in the presence of a BWC, their use in completing incident reports, and their role in collecting and presenting evidence. This paper examines current police officers' views on BWCs, their possible benefits and setbacks, and how their implementation might factor into law enforcement practices.

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Date Created
  • 2016-12

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Body-Worn Cameras and the Use of Force in the Spokane Police Department

Description

Despite disciplinary actions by police departments, the use of force continues to be a prevalent aspect of police misconduct. High-profile cases reported by the media have put police departments under

Despite disciplinary actions by police departments, the use of force continues to be a prevalent aspect of police misconduct. High-profile cases reported by the media have put police departments under intense pressure to find a solution for this issue. One of the highly publicized potential solutions is the implementation of body-worn camera. The question this paper attempts to answer is: does the implementation of a body-worn camera program have a significant effect on the number of use of force incidents?

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Date Created
  • 2016-12

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Examining Variation in Police Discretion: The Impact of Context and Body-Worn Cameras on Officer Behavior

Description

Discretion is central to policing. The way officers use their discretion is influenced by situational, officer, and neighborhood-level factors. Concerns that discretion could be used differentially across neighborhoods have resulted

Discretion is central to policing. The way officers use their discretion is influenced by situational, officer, and neighborhood-level factors. Concerns that discretion could be used differentially across neighborhoods have resulted in calls for increased police transparency and accountability. Body-worn cameras (BWCs) have been promoted to further these goals through increasing oversight of police-citizen encounters. The implication is that BWCs will increase officer self-awareness and result in more equitable outcomes. Prior researchers have largely evaluated the direct impact of BWCs. Researchers have yet to examine the potential for BWCs to moderate the influence of neighborhood context in individual incidents.

To address this gap, I use Phoenix Police Department data collected as part of a three-year randomized-controlled trial of BWCs to examine variation in police discretion. These data include over 1.5 million police-citizen contacts nested within 826 officers and 388 neighborhoods. I examine two research questions. First, how do proactivity, arrests, and use of force vary depending on situational, officer, and neighborhood contexts? This provides a baseline for my next research question. Second, examining the same contexts and outcomes, do BWCs moderate the influence of neighborhood factors on police behavior? As such, I examine the untested, though heavily promoted, argument that BWCs will reduce the influence of extralegal factors on officer behavior.

Using cross-classified logistic regression models, I found that situational, officer, and neighborhood factors all influenced proactivity, arrest, and use of force. BWCs were associated with a lower likelihood of proactivity, but an increased likelihood of arrest and use of force. Officers were more proactive and were more likely to conduct arrests in immigrant and Hispanic neighborhoods. The moderating effects suggest that officers were even more likely to proactively initiate contacts and conduct arrests in immigrant and Hispanic neighborhoods when BWCs were activated. However, after BWCs were deployed, use of force was significantly less likely to occur in black neighborhoods. Given that high-profile police use of force incidents involving black suspects are often cited as a major impetus for the adoption of BWCs in American police agencies, this finding is a key contribution to the literature.

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Date Created
  • 2020

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The Civilizing Effect of Body Worn Cameras

Description

Police departments have perceived improved citizen behavior to be a benefit of body-worn cameras (BWC) since their implementation. Often referred to as a civilizing effect, the idea that citizens will

Police departments have perceived improved citizen behavior to be a benefit of body-worn cameras (BWC) since their implementation. Often referred to as a civilizing effect, the idea that citizens will become calmer when they know that they are being recorded by an officer is rooted in deterrence theory and self-awareness theory. Deterrence theory states that people will behave properly when they believe punishment will be swift, certain, and severe, while self-awareness theory states that individuals cognizant of their place in society model their actions based on social norms. The presence of a BWC, though, does not guarantee that the citizen is aware they are being recorded. Citizen awareness of the BWC and activation of the BWC are necessary pre-conditions to improved behavior. Current evidence is mixed regarding if BWCs are a catalyst for improved citizen behavior, which is typically measured through reductions in use of force by police and citizen complaints. Using data collected through systematic social observation during police ride-alongs, the author will seek to determine: 1) How often BWCs are activated in police-citizen encounters, 2) How often citizens are aware of BWCs in these encounters, 3) How often citizen behavior changes positively following BWC awareness, and 4) How often citizen behavior changes independent of BWC awareness. This study expands on current research by examining the civilizing effect of BWCs from a transactional standpoint and how citizen behavior changes within an officer-citizen encounter, rather than using a post-interaction metric such as use of force.

Despite high BWC activation compliance among the officers within this study, no evidence was found for BWCs having a civilizing effect as the pre-condition of citizen awareness was rarely satisfied. These results could shape policies within departments implementing BWCs hoping to improve officer safety and community relations. Mandatory notification would satisfy the pre-condition of citizen awareness, allowing for the BWC to potentially have a civilizing effect.

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Date Created
  • 2020