Accessing the Perception of BWCs

Assessing Citizen Perceptions of Body-Worn Cameras After Encounters with Police


Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 2017


Michael D. White, Natalie Todak,  and Janne E. Gaub

The purpose of this paper is to assess perceptions of body-worn cameras (BWCs) among citizens who had BWC-recorded police encounters, and to explore the potential for a civilizing effect on citizen behavior. From June to November 2015, the authors conducted telephone interviews with 249 citizens in Spokane (WA) who had a recent BWC-recorded police encounter. Respondents were satisfied with how they were treated during the police encounter and, overall, had positive attitudes about BWCs. However, only 28 percent of respondents were actually aware of the BWC during their own encounter. The authors also found little evidence of a civilizing effect but did document a significant, positive connection between awareness of the BWC and enhanced perceptions of procedural justice. The study is among the first to explore attitudes about BWCs among those who have their police encounters recorded, and results demonstrate high levels of support among this population. Findings bode well for continued adoption of BWCs in policing.

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