Jonesboro, Arkansas, is a city of 75,000 in the northeastern corner of the state, approximately 70 miles from Memphis, Tennessee. Located within one of the fastest growing counties in Arkansas, Jonesboro is home to Arkansas State University and its 13,000 students. In 2018, Jonesboro PD received a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Body-Worn Camera Policy and Implementation Program (BWCPIP).
Two challenging aspects of implementing or expanding a body-worn camera (BWC) program are ensuring projecting staffing is sufficient to support the program as well as anticipating the impacts on existing staff. Several variables make staffing challenging—some of which an agency can control while others are imposed. Ideally, agencies could simply use a staffing formula based on deployed BWC units, but the complexity of BWC issues makes that impractical.
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.
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.
Many people know Wichita, Kansas, as the “air capital of the world,” or as the birthplace of both White Castle and Pizza Hut. Wyatt Earp also worked as a Wichita police officer long before the famed 1881 shootout at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. More recently, we recognize Wichita as an early adopter and innovator of police body-worn cameras (BWCs).
Do the Effects of Police Body-Worn Cameras on Use of Force and Complaints Change Over Time? Results From a Panel Analysis in the Milwaukee Police Department.
Police body-worn cameras (BWCs) can help improve transparency, accountability, and policing behaviors. This study extends prior BWC research by using a panel analysis design with a measure of treatment duration to examine how the effects of BWCs change over time.
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 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:
1. It is difficult to keep track of the quickly growing evidence base.
2. It is difficult to make sense of the sometimes competing findings across studies.