This webinar provided an overview of the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Body-Worn Camera (BWC) Policy and Implementation Program (PIP) after six years of operation, drawing on the experiences of grant program personnel, public safety executives whose agencies have received funding, and training and technical assistance providers who have helped guide the program from its inception. The discussion highlighted how agencies have used BWC funding and TTA to build successful and comprehensive BWC programs.
Resources about Stakeholders & Stakeholder Engagement
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?”
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 US Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) launched the Body-Worn Camera (BWC) Policy and Implementation Program (PIP) in FY 2015 to assist law enforcement agencies in enhancing or implementing BWC programs. PIP’s primary goals are to improve public safety, reduce crime, and improve trust between police and the citizens they serve.
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 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.
Body-worn cameras (BWCs) have received increasing empirical attention as more police agencies rapidly deploy this new technology among officers. Recent research estimates that around half (47.4%) of all agencies and a large majority of those with 500 or more officers (79.6%) have established an operational BWC program (Hyland, 2018). BWCs can improve police operations by providing objective, recorded accounts of police-community interactions that can provide valuable evidence in investigations.