Law enforcement agencies and community leaders recognize that body-worn cameras (BWCs) and in-car video systems can promote transparency, officer safety, agency development and reform, efficiency, and officer accountability. When considering acquiring BWCs or in-car video systems, or integrating the systems together, agencies must consider the unique capabilities of each. In this article, we briefly describe BWCs and in-car video systems, and then we discuss aspects of implementing BWCs, in-car video systems, or both.
Implementing, expanding, or updating a body-worn camera (BWC) program comes with important considerations and a number of challenges. One particular challenge is that BWCs increase workloads and, thus, staffing needs. When it comes to BWC programs, agencies frequently ask, “Are additional personnel going to be required, and, if so, how do I determine the level of increase and justify the associated expense?”
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 Camden County, New Jersey, Police Department began its body-worn camera (BWC) program in 2015 with a pilot program. Camden County received its first Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) BWC Policy and Implementation (PIP) grant in 2016 and a second BWC grant in 2017. The agency employs around 650 employees, including 450 sworn officers, and is responsible for providing preventive and reactive policing services for the residents of Camden City, which covers 8.9 square miles and serves a population of 78,000.
A study by the Arizona State University (ASU) Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety published in March 2020 reported that only 34 percent of law enforcement agencies receiving funding through the Bureau of Justice Assistance Body-Worn Camera Policy and Implementation program provide refresher training for their personnel on the use of BWCs. However, a 2015 survey of agencies that had implemented BWCs demonstrated that officers desire and are in need of r
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 rapid rollout of body-worn cameras (BWCs) by agencies across the country has been unlike the adoption of any other technology in the history of law enforcement. Societal demand for increased accountability and transparency drove the rollout. Many departments are now hitting full stride with their BWC programs and some are experiencing challenges.
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?