Campus Cameras: Implementing Body-Worn Cameras in Collegiate Police Departments

Source: 

East Carolina University, Department of Criminal Justice (2019) 

Authors: 

Janne E. Gaub, Ph.D.

Executive Summary: Since 2014, many police agencies have adopted body-worn camera (BWC) programs, in many cases with little to no evidence-base to guide implementation and policy development. The research has expanded significantly since then, with well over 70 articles now published on the topic of BWCs (Lum, Stoltz, Koper, & Scherer, 2019). These studies have identified several benefits of the technology, including increased transparency and legitimacy, expedited resolution of complaints, and evidentiary value for arrest and prosecution. Likewise, BWCs still present challenges, especially related to privacy and financial constraints.Much of the research has also focused on municipal agencies; to date, only one study has used data from officers in a college/university setting. This study uses survey data from collegiate law enforcement agencies to better understand how BWCs are used in these agencies. The survey was administered via the online survey platform Qualtrics and sent to the agency director on 611 college or university campuses; 126 surveys were completed (response rate of 20.6%). The survey included both open- and closed-ended questions about program goals, policy development, and perceived benefits and challenges associated with BWCs. Findings indicate that roughly half (49%) of agencies had fully implemented a BWC program, and another 13% were in the planning phase or had partially deployed the technology. These agencies viewed the technology positively, citing benefits like evidentiary value and complaint resolution. The most notable challenges included budget constraints, technical concerns, and privacy and public records compliance.

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