Body-worn cameras (BWCs) may be seen as the future of law enforcement, and the use of the technology has spread across the US and even globally. But the question remains, how do body-worn cameras actually impact policing? Numerous researches have been done to quantify its results, but the findings seem to be bringing more confusion. This session aims to bring clarity on the BWC-related researches and weed through the noise for the nuggets of wisdom agencies can use as a takeaway from all of this.
Dr. Jane E. Gaub is this course’s instructor and she’ll walk us through the current state of BWC research. She serves as a subject-matter expert for the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) BWC Policy and Implementation Program Training and Technical Assistance, where she guides and supports agencies on the implementation of BWC programs. She is an academic, with a Ph.D. in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Arizona State University with research interests including police BWCs and specialty units. She is also an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Points discussed in this webinar include:
- The rapid diffusion of BWCs across the world – a look into the early beginnings of BWC program implementation and the studies that followed it.
- How the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing cemented the role of BWCs in enhancing transparency and accountability.
- A glimpse into the most common topics of research related to BWCs.
- How BWCs impact use of force and citizen complaints against officers as directly related to the goal of accountability and transparency in policing.
- Looking at the perceptions of citizens and officers on the use of BWCs focusing on privacy, due process, safety, and accountability.
- The impact of BWCs on officer activity such as arrests, citations, and traffic stops.
- Use of BWCs in non-police contexts of the criminal justice system such as probation and corrections and its influence to court workload and outcomes.
- How BWCs shape citizen’s perceptions on procedural justice and officers’ attitudes on organizational justice.
- The utility of BWCs as reliable data sources for research.
- The impact of BWCs on agency policies on related issues.
- The research summaries which analyzed the outcomes of employing a BWC program in different jurisdictions based on data for use of force, arrests, and self-initiated stops.
- The apparent varying findings based on the researches and unpacking the reasons for this.
- The importance of context in understanding how a BWC program can impact outcomes by taking into account the conditions surrounding the initiative and the impetus for it.
- The impact of buy-in and cooperation of major stakeholders in the success of the BWC initiative.
- The technical aspects of the study that looks at statistical rigor, randomization and contamination, and consistency of definitions to ensure that numbers are comparable.
- The significance of conducting research despite the inability to come up with a consensus across agency findings and the value in taking context into account to make sense of it.
- Recommendations for criminal justice agencies to have a better grasp of the value in the research by:
- Understanding the scope and limitations of the researches.
- Looking for easy to understand resource to better incorporate findings to real-life practice.
- Utilizing evidence-based practice by assessing a BWC program’s applicability and efficacy.
Questions from the audience were about:
- The total cost of rolling-out a BWC program.
- What BWCs can visually capture and how it impacts its use.
- The cost of employing a third-party institution or expert to conduct an assessment and other factors to consider for an agency considering implementing a BWC program.
- Court outcomes of instances when the officers turned off BWCs.
Resources and Handouts
- BJA’s Body-Worn Camera Training & Technical Assistance site
- BJA’s Body-Worn Camera Toolkit
- Body Worn Camera Cost and Storage Estimator
- “Great presenter and topic.” — Stephen
- “More work needs to be done to evaluate the value of body-worn cameras in terms of measurable goals that policy makers and officers would see as an improvement in policing. Understanding the baseline of the organizational context of each agency is important but difficult to do.” — Peter
- “The author proved to be very well versed in the subject matter. Well done!” — Kim
- “I’m a trainer who talks about privacy issues related to victim rights. I was interested to learn of the policies that allow BWC’s to be turned off w vulnerable victims. The information provided was good!” — Kirsten
- “I liked the Q&A portion the most because it allows for more specific information that is useful to me.” — Kathi
- “The webinar was well-spoken and I learned a lot about the topic.” — Ronald