Over the last few years, thousands of law enforcement agencies in the United States have adopted body-worn cameras (BWCs), and those agencies immediately had to deal with the tremendous amount of digital evidence generated by the technology. Digital evidence management (DEM) is the process by which an agency manages, stores, and transmits the data generated by BWCs and other devices (e.g., other types of cameras, cell phones). DEM is a critically important feature of a successful BWC program.
As more police agencies have adopted BWCs on their own initiative, and at least seven states have recently moved to mandate their use, BWCs are becoming a permanent fixture for the majority of police agencies. As BWCs continue to garner widespread support across varied segments of the public and of law enforcement, the benefits of this technology are becoming firmly established and agencies are demonstrating novel ways to use BWCs to improve policing.
Digital Evidence Management (DEM) encompasses a wide variety of devices, technologies, tools, and data, particularly as they relate to the criminal justice system (Goodison, Davis, and Jackson, 2015). This report is about body-worn cameras (BWCs) and the digital evidence (footage) created by the technology. The main purpose of the study is to understand and explain the key challenges faced by law enforcement agencies and prosecutor offices as they use BWCs routinely.
Nearly all scholarship on body-worn cameras (BWCs) has focused on municipal police departments, as they comprise a majority of sworn agencies. Given the unique environment of collegiate law enforcement agencies, however, it is possible that their paths to BWCs—and the benefits and challenges they experience—vary from that of more traditional agencies. Using a survey of 126 collegiate police departments and in-depth interviews with 15 collegiate police executives, this study describes their goals, challenges, and benefits related to BWCs.
The Impacts of Body‑Worn Cameras: An Examination of Police Specialty Unit Perceptions through Diffusion of Innovations
This study assesses the effects of body-worn cameras (BWCs) on rates of fatalities arising from police-citizen encounters. While existing experimental research has not examined this outcome because it is so rare, the staggered roll-out of BWCs across the nation’s law enforcement agencies provides an opportunity for quasi-experimental analysis.
Is There a Civilizing Effect on Citizens? Testing the Pre- Conditions for Body Worn Camera-Induced Behavior Change
The cause(s) of reduced use of force and complaints following police body-worn camera (BWC) deployment remain unclear, though some argue that BWCs generate a civilizing effect on citizen behavior. This potential effect rests on four pre-conditions:
(1) BWC presence and citizen awareness;
(2) BWC activation;
(3) Escalated citizen behavior or the potential for escalation;
(4) Citizen mental capacity for BWC awareness.
The research on police body-worn cameras (BWCs) has rapidly expanded to evaluate the technology’s impact on a range of police outcomes. Far fewer studies have addressed the various effects on downstream criminal justice actors, and those that do have focused almost entirely on prosecutors. Thus, public defenders have remained on the periphery of the police BWC discussion, despite playing an important role as an end-user of the technology.