Over the past five years, the number of research studies on BWCs has exploded, from just five in 2014 to nearly 120 as of December 2019. The studies address numerous outcomes including use of force and citizen complaints, officer and citizen perceptions, court outcomes, and officer activity measures (e.g., arrests and self-initiated calls). Some utilize “gold standard” randomized controlled trials (RCTs), whereas others use less rigorous methods. The early studies on BWCs were almost universally positive (e.g., studies of police departments in Rialto (CA), Mesa (AZ), Phoenix (AZ), and Orlando (FL)). Over time, however, the findings have become more mixed. Some studies look at the same outcomes but produce opposite findings. Some studies show that BWCs reduce complaints and use of force, which others show no impact. How can we make sense of this growing—and sometimes conflicting—body of research?
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