After the Webinar: Understanding the Impact of Police Body Worn Cameras on Public Defenders. Q&A with the Speakers

Webinar presenters Dr. Janne Gaub and Dr. Carolyn Naoroz answered a number of your questions after their presentation, Understanding the Impact of Police Body-Worn Cameras on Public Defenders.  Here are just a few of their responses.


Audience Question: Have there been any studies on how much additional work is required inside of a law enforcement agency that has implemented body-worn cameras? 

Carolyn Naoroz: To my knowledge, not about the day-to-day workflow of a body-worn camera unit, although, Janne, you might know something that I don’t know.

Janne Gaub: The only one that comes to mind is Las Vegas. Wasn’t big and it may be just that I’m not interpreting the question correctly, I apologize. But I know what Las Vegas did a cost-benefit analysis. And, so, they did look at the time to get their professional standards, sorry. They did look at the time that their professional standards bureau, is looking, was spending on complaints, so like resolving complaints. And so, they found that there was a significant cost saving, in terms of time saves and not having to investigate complaints. So, that was either people who didn’t file a complaint. That could have been, you know, the sergeant handled it first, right. Like I mentioned, like, somebody calls the sergeant, says they want to file a complaint, and the sergeant kind of manage it on their own, pretty quickly. It also could just be that, again, officers and citizens are acting better. There were just fewer complaints to be made, but they found that there was a significant cost saving in that area. In terms of other things like increased workload, like on officers, like, line-level officers, not to my knowledge.

Host: Got it. So, they typed in a clarification, they were talking about responding to the FOIA requests and the need to redact the videos I think this, is where the service is coming in.

Carolyn Naoroz: No, that would be a research gap, that, that, that if some enterprising researchers wanted to do that would be very helpful. I know I personally have calculated from the officers’ standpoint, like a very, like, approximate, how many hours per year, I think, I calculated. It was over 40,000 hours a year, were spent doing frontline data management. Like, if you say 2 to three minutes per video, and I like one video per hour on a shift, very, very average numbers, right. It ended up being something like over 40,000 hours a year of officers’ time being taken away from other police activities. Just too, manage to put on ID numbers, titles for videos, categorizing, etc. and that would be like out on the street using the axon Evidence app.

Janne Gaub: In terms of the actual, in terms of the actual like redaction, if you’re talking about them and, you know, the unit in charge of redacting videos before they’re released publicly. You know, there’s, to my knowledge, there is no study that has, I would say that because there’s like new studies coming out all the time. So, it could have come to a couple of days and I just haven’t seen it, but I have not seen a study that’s looked at that, and it is definitely something that is a question. It’s a valid research question that people are asking. And I think part of the reason that there isn’t one is just that there’s so many there is substantial variation between agencies in the technology that they have available to them to be able to do it so. And I know several body camera vendors have talked about, like auto redaction software. Axon was talking about that for a while. I don’t know if that ever came to fruition. But you know, at least starting the process, so that then you just have to do like cleaning up afterward.

Carolyn Naoroz: Yeah, I was going to say, from a practical standpoint I’m, I do know that it, for our General Counsel it takes up a significant amount of their time to do redactions. And since we do use Axon, their improvements have been made since the early days, the redactions studio initially, a great tool to have in general, but they have improved it. Again, that’s not to say that it’s perfect or that it’s foolproof by any means, but it is still very time consuming for our general counsel. That’s but that’s anecdotally in terms of research. I’m not aware of a study being done as of yet.



Audience Question: I know that some vendors have the ability to share directly from their website, through a portal, with the defense attorneys, with the prosecution and stuff. So, this is not talking about vendors like Axon that got some that have that capability, I believe. And the first is asking, do you have any suggestions on the best way to share BWC footage with defense attorneys as part of the discovery? 

Carolyn Naoroz: I would probably say because these can be large file sizes when we have to make hard copies. In my unit, I’m in charge of making hard copies, if we need things for internal affairs that have to go into a file. For that, we use blu rays. There I have done individual cases where I have had to like in quadruplet. It’s five, blu Ray DVDs per set because it’s that the files are that large. And there are that many videos, which so, that is one way. USB being the other.

Janne Gaub: USB flash drive is the other, Yeah. And I know one thing that got mentioned, several times fair by our public defenders. and again, because there’s such wide variation in the processes that they use. So, I kind of heard a lot of different processes that were used was that when it was provided to them to make sure that it was in a format. And it seems silly, but make sure it’s in a format that’s viewable on whatever tech programs that they have. And so, you know, what the video viewing program they may have might need it in a particular format. And so just making sure that they are compatible. And, but yeah, a lot of them seem to get them in the disk, either DVD, or blu rays, and they seem to prefer the blu rays because you know you could fit more on one disk. But yeah. that seems to be the prevailing method other than Cloud. And when it was Cloud, they preferred being able to, you know, directly access it, just so that it saves money, not having to burn disks and stuff. They could just go indirectly to do it. But, yeah, if you have two disks, probably disks, would be the best.

Carolyn Naoroz: I was just going to say one other thing. If you do have to share hard copies, one of the things that I made sure that we implemented for my unit was a form that whoever was the receiving end of that hardcopy had to sign that. They were acknowledging that it was sensitive law enforcement material, etc. So that we had an actual paper trail of who we handed off. Those hard copies to.

Janne Gaub: And I know some of them mentioned something about like they would say, like, I need this video on this day from this officer. Like, especially incidents, where it was multiple officers, responded, but they only wanted one officer’s video, and then they would get everybody’s video, and they weren’t labeled. So, we have to watch all this footage to find out the one that we know we wanted, and that we asked for specifically, but then we didn’t get it. So, I think making sure it’s labeled properly, and, and just all these things, I always think of, like, I would do it, how I would want it done for me. And so, I think that’s just the courtesy, you know, kind of component.



Audience Question: You mentioned 130 white papers that are research papers on BWC. Is there a central repository for those papers that you could suggest people go to, or maybe one that has a lot of them, maybe not all of them, but a chunk of them?

Janne Gaub: Sure. So, I wish that our published research was not behind a paywall. Most of them are. So, where you can go, however, where a lot of them are is the BJA Body-worn Camera. It’s a long title, Body-worn Camera Policy and Implementation Program Training and Technical Assistance website. It’s They have quite a few of those research studies uploaded on their website. There’s also a series of directories of outcomes. So, if you’re interested in, you know, what are the effect on, like the use of force, we’ve created tables that kind of visually describe all of those results. So, you don’t have to read through all the studies if you don’t want to. It’s the easy version, but that’s where I would recommend.



Audience Question: After an officer is involved in a critical incident, do you have any thoughts on allowing them to view the BWC video prior to writing their report? 

Carolyn Naoroz: I can tell you for my agency and that this is what I would recommend across the board for any agency, is to not have the officer watch their footage prior to writing their reports. Um, we have this, specifically in our policy, the majority of our use of force incidents as soon as they write that report. It’s a simple use of force, and they are able to watch that footage with their supervisor. It’s only been very rare circumstances. Like an officer-involved shooting where it’s been, probably months have gone by without that officer because of the investigation being able to watch their footage. We took a recommendation from, I believe it’s the Diego law group that specializes in law enforcement recommendations of this nature. And we also our unit and our chief at the time it’s something we’ve retained in our policy is just to ensure that the officers, what, I call, like their police spidey senses. So, these cameras aren’t capturing everything that an officer is experiencing on the street, and we want to make sure that we have as accurate as possible, a report from their point of view that’s not being influenced by the video.

Janne Gaub: I would agree with that. There’s a good body of research that shows that memory is altered. I mean not like neurologically altered. Like how we remember things is altered once we see, you know, photos, videos, those kinds of things, right? We may not even recognize that our memory is being changed. And so, what I tend to recommend is just, you know, haven’t, as she said, Carolyn said to have them write that report so that you get their initial thought right away. And some agencies, I’ve seen do that. And then they’ll have the officer watch the footage. And then they kind of do this. Like almost like a sentinel event review, right? Like this reconciliation, sort of like, okay, now we’re going to look and see. And it’s not like, I know you said this. And the video said this. And it’s not like adversarial. It’s just okay, you said this, we’re seeing this on a video. Like, let’s try to reconcile these things. And so, we’re, you know, trying to, again, get at the truth, right? And but definitely, you want to see what you want to know, what they remember because there is a good amount of research that says that our memories will be altered, even unknowingly by watching the video.



Audience Question: Referring to your response to an earlier question, Dr. Naoroz. Can you clarify how the 40,000 hours was calculated in terms of, is that based on agency size? Is it based on the number of videos? How did you calculate the additional 40,000 hours of time from the officers to be able to tag the videos, and so on, and so forth?

Carolyn Naoroz: Sure. So, I was going off of how many, how large our department is. So, we have 750 sworn as our authorization. We have, give or take a couple of cameras on any day of the week based on who’s retired or recruits or you name it. About 450 cameras. So, I did a calculation based on how many officers I would have on the street over a 24-hour period. This was a couple of years ago, so at this point, I’m trying to backtrack. So, let’s say, I think it was about 120 officers on the street in a 24-hour period, and if each one of those officers spent three minutes per video, with like one video per hour on a 12-hour shift. So that calculation added up to what that would be for a day. Then I expanded that into a, you know, a weeklong period, a month-long and then calculating it up to a year, which, that’s how I arrived at. It was, approximately. And that’s, that’s just an average number, the average amount of officers would have on the street. An average amount of videos that they would make in 12-hour shifts. An average amount of time, it will maybe take them to add. So, the ID numbers we use, our CAD numbers are computed aided dispatch numbers to identify videos. They, by policy, have to include a title. By policy, they also have to categorize the videos, of which we have several categories, for them to utilize. That’s how I arrived at that number. You really could do that with, you know, with any agency. And just kind of take the averages of who you got on the street; how many videos are made a day. And then, for us, because none of that is automated because CADs aren’t automatically generated on videos or titles or anything else, that was just something I was sort of like, how many hours are officers spending? You know, basically stepping aside or stepping off the street to go ahead and do this front-end data management that we need, and or someone like me needs in order to be able to then share later with our Commonwealth Attorneys.



Audience Question: Regarding the burden of watching BWC videos, have any effective solutions like using artificial intelligence been identified for either the prosecutor or defense attorney? 

Carolyn Naoroz: To my knowledge, I am sure that there is a brilliant mind, one of these vendors, that’s working on such things.

Janne Gaub: I know there’s, there are some researchers that work in the machine learning, AI kind of area and that they, so, they may be working on something, but I haven’t seen anything that’s anywhere close to completion or anything like that. But that is something that’s been discussed, right? It’s kind of the same process as the redaction. It’s basically an automated process, right? But if you can, and I think we’re, I think I actually talked about this with some of my focus groups. I said you know, well, if there was this automated process, and they’re like. Well, I don’t know how you could train it to know what to look for, always. Because there might be, you know, specific legal things that they’re looking for, that they’re not necessarily able to see. You’d have to train it and stuff, so I think they were concerned about jurisdictional variations and things like that. But yeah, not to my knowledge, but it’d be a great idea to at least help ease the burden.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Understanding the Impact of Police Body-Worn Cameras on Public Defenders



Additional Resources
5 years ago
Beyond Body-Worn: Boulder County’s Digital Evidence Strategy
Body-worn cameras is the future of policing as more and more law enforcement agencies are proactivel […]
5 years ago
The Latest Research and Policy Issues Surrounding the Use of Body-Worn Cameras in Law Enforcement
In the summer of 2014, two critical cases pressured the federal government to support transparency a […]
Body Camera Programs
6 years ago
What Law Enforcement Agencies Need to Know to Implement a Successful Body-Worn Camera Program
Two critical cases that shone the light on the issue of use of force took place in 2014. The death o […]
6 years ago
Implementing Body Worn Cameras: An Interview with Michael White
Rolling out a body worn camera program for your agency is more than just handing out the equipment, […]