Police body-worn cameras (BWCs) are an increasingly prominent research area in criminal justice. This trend mirrors current practice, with more and more law enforcement agencies implementing or procuring BWCs. Yet the evidence on BWCs is substantially long on evidence but rather short on theory. Why should BWCs ‘work’ and under what conditions or on whom? This article offers a more robust theoretical composition for the causal mechanisms that can explain the efficacy of BWCs.
Resources about Policy
To contribute to the important national debate about body cameras the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) then-President Theodore Simon established a working group in December 2014 and, in July 2015, the NACDL Board of Directors adopted a set of principles
In summer 2015, my department received a complaint from a citizen that she had been sexually assaulted by one of my officers while the officer cited her for larceny. The complainant would not come to police headquarters, but instead provided her account by phone. The Internal Affairs Commander began an investigation and, two hours later, I learned that the officer was one of three in our department who was field-testing and evaluating a body-worn camera (BWC), and that the entire incident had been captured on a BWC.
The Greensboro, NC, Police Department recently developed a frequently asked questions card to make it easier for their officers to provide information on the department's use of body-worn cameras to community members wanting to view a BWC recording. The cards are provided to patrol officers to hand out to community members. The Greensboro police department has placed 1,000 hard copies of this card in the roll-call room at each of their four patrol substations.
To view a copy of the BWC FAQ card, click here.
An agency's BWC policy is essential to the successful implementation of its BWC program. Below are example policies from actual BWC Policy Implementation Program (PIP) sites. These policies are publicly available and/or provided at the permission of these agencies. Please note that these agencies strive to continuously review and update their policies to ensure that they meet the needs of the department and the communities they serve.
Body worn cameras are often regarded as the solution to improving strained police-community relationships and increasing police accountability and transparency. While BWCs play an important part in police reform efforts, they are just one piece to the puzzle. Implementing BWCs within a law enforcement agency is a complex endeavor with many different facets that agencies must take into consideration to ensure that the desired outcomes are achieved.
The IACPs, National Forum on Body-Worn Cameras and Violence Against Women Victim Impact, was designed to identify the considerations law enforcement agencies should take into account specifically regarding domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking as they develop body-worn camera policies and programs. The forum created a dialogue between a multidisciplinary group of subject matter experts including law enforcement, prosecutors, victim advocates, medical personnel, and others.
The ACLU has issued an updated Police Body Camers Model Legislation. The version 2.0, is a more detailed model legislation, incorporating a number of tweaks that we have been persuaded will improve the way implementing agencies deploy body cameras. One of the more significant changes involves what kind of video is subject to public release and what kind is not.
This webinar discusses different approaches to how police agencies monitor compliance to body worn camera (BWC) policy, and how they manage non-compliance to BWC policy. Representatives from Corpus Christi Police Department, New Orleans Police Department, San Antonio Police Department and Las Vegas Metropolitain Police Department discussed important issues as: how to audit and monitor compliance to BWC policy, adjustments to monitoring over time, variations in responses to officer non-compliance, and constraints due to vendor provisions for monitoring data.
The federal government is subsidizing dash-cams and body-cams for local police in response to high-publicized incidents of police misconduct. What does the footage really show? Should the public be able to see it all? We hear about the need for balance between privacy and so-called "transparency."
Click here to listen.