A randomized controlled trial of the impact of body-worn camera activation on the outcomes of individual incidents
Body-worn cameras can’t replace an officer’s perceptions, but they can be extraordinarily valuable when they confirm the presence of weapons, capture resistance, and verify de-escalation attempts. What’s more, it is expected that the presence of cameras encourages people on both sides of the lens to be the best version of themselves as they interact.
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 research base on the impact of police body-worn cameras (BWCs) has grown rapidly, and, over time, the results have become increasingly mixed. This development poses two problems:
This Campbell systematic summarizes the evidence from 30 studies of the effects of BWCs on several officer and citizen behaviors.
The majority of studies are from the United States.
For a two page summary on the resource, click here.
Body-worn cameras (BWC) have diffused rapidly throughout policing as a means of promoting transparency and accountability. Yet, whether to release BWC footage to the public remains largely up to the discretion of police executives, and we know little about how they interpret and respond to BWC footage – particularly footage involving critical incidents.
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.