The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has more than 1,200 local law enforcement agencies, which vary greatly in size and access to available resources. In 2018, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) applied for and received a fiscal year (FY) 2018 Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Body-Worn Camera (BWC) Policy and Implementation Program (PIP) grant on behalf of 50 law enforcement agencies throughout the commonwealth.
The Hogansville, Georgia, Police Department first implemented BWCs in mid-2008 when former Chief of Police Moses Ector purchased two BWCs at an International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Conference for a trial run. When Hogansville first deployed the BWCs, the various shifts shared them. The BWCs could not remain functional, however, because of their charging requirements, so they were decommissioned and shelved for a few months. Chief Ector reissued one BWC to Sergeant Jeff Sheppard full time to test the effectiveness of the BWC.
The Newton County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office (NCSO) is the primary law enforcement authority in Newton County, Georgia. Newton County began its body-worn camera (BWC) implementation in 2015 when it received its first BWC Policy and Implementation Program (PIP) grant; Newton County received a second BWC PIP grant in 2017 to expand its BWC program.
Over the past five years, the number of research studies on BWCs has exploded, from just five in 2014 to nearly 120 as of December 2019. The studies address numerous outcomes including use of force and citizen complaints, officer and citizen perceptions, court outcomes, and officer activity measures (e.g., arrests and self-initiated calls). Some utilize “gold standard” randomized controlled trials (RCTs), whereas others use less rigorous methods.
In-View Commentary for the Commonwealth of Virginia Public Defenders: Effects of Police BWCs on Public Defenders
As the number of law enforcement agencies equipping officers with BWCs increases, so too has the amount of BWC research (Gaub & White, 2020; Lum, Stoltz, Koper, Scherer, & Scherer, 2019; White & Malm, 2020). However, these studies have almost exclusively focused on the effects of the technology on police behavior, policy, and practice. But BWCs have created a ripple effect throughout the criminal justice system, and the effects on other actors—especially in the courtroom—have been noticeably understudied.
The Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department began researching body-worn cameras (BWCs) in 2013 and began implementing its BWC program in 2015 with the receipt of a Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) BWC Policy and Implementation Program (PIP) grant. The agency employs approximately 4,500 personnel, of which 3,200 are assigned a BWC. During BWC planning, DC Metro decided to take a different approach implementing this technology compared to previous technology implementations.
In View: How to Manage the Implementation of your Body-Worn Camera (BWC) Deployment and Improve Outcomes
You have written your policy, you have selected your camera vendor, and you have trained your officers and deployed your cameras. Now what? Will your agency’s deployment be successful? Do you know if it was worth all the time, effort, and resources? Are you able to point out successes to your community and local officials? Are you able to identify challenges and develop solutions? Can you assess implementation progress and improve outcomes to make the deployment more valuable to your agency, your officers, and your community?
In View Commentary: Prosecutorial and Public Defender Perceptions: Anticipated Impact of Police Body Worn Cameras on Jurors' Decision Making
This research studies how prosecutors and public defenders (PDs) in three counties adapt to body-worn cameras (BWCs) in their everyday practice and the perceived value of BWC video as evidence in their cases. More specifically, the researchers consider prosecutorial and PD notions regarding the effect of BWC footage on jurors’ expectations and the effect of BWCs on juror decision making.
Recent news reports have discussed the costs and benefits of body-worn cameras (BWCs).
As the implementation of Body-Worn Cameras (BWCs) continues to expand to police agencies across the country, officers are increasingly accepting and, in many cases, demanding the cameras. Police recognize that BWC technology is here to stay, and the majority of communities expect their police departments to adopt them. Still, officers, agencies, and police unions do not uniformly embrace BWCs. Challenges and obstacles remain.