An Examination of the Type, Scope, and Duration of Body-Worn Camera Training
ASU Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety (2020)
Though the research on BWCs has grown at an exponential rate over the past five years, there has been virtually no discussion about the training used by departments. This is a crucial oversight, given that any program or policy cannot succeed without effective training. We conducted an online survey of agencies receiving federal funds for BWCs to understand the type of training offered to officers, what this training entails, and how frequently training is provided. Responses from nearly 100 agencies indicate several key trends:
- Most agencies use multiple forms of training, rather than just one (66%).
- The majority of responding agencies take advantage of vendor training (71%), but they never rely solely on it.
- Reliance on vendor training did not vary by agency size. Large agencies are just as likely to use vendor training as small agencies.
- The vast majority of agencies provide officers with their own department-specific BWC initial training (84%).
- Only about one-third (34%) of agencies provide any sort of refresher training on BWCs. This is surprising given that both BWC policies and state law frequently change.
The second set of findings involves the content of the specific forms of training.
- Vendor training focuses primarily on operational issues with BWCs, such as the mechanics of activation, deactivation, and video download.
- Vendor training less commonly covers policy issues, though many respondents expressed concerns about this. They felt the department-specific nuances of a policy are not appropriate for vendor training.
- Initial training offered by departments themselves usually cover a wide range of both operational and policy issues. Departments generally do not rely solely on vendor training to cover operational issues.
- The length of vendor and initial training varies substantially, from two hours to more than four hours. Refresher training is usually an hour or less.
- Refresher training tends to focus primarily on a handful of selected policy issues. Respondents highlighted the importance of refresher training for addressing emerging problems (e.g., low activation rates) and changes in policy or law.
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