The United States Department of Justice recently funded a study of the effects of body-worn cameras on officer activity, officer use-of-force and citizen complaints. The study found that officers equipped with body-worn cameras made more arrests, wrote more citations, were involved in fewer use-of-force situations and received fewer citizen complaints that those officers without cameras.
Many community stakeholders and criminal justice leaders have suggested placing body-worn cameras on police officers improves the civility of police-citizen encounters and enhances citizen perceptions of police transparency and legitimacy.
In response, many police departments, including the Dothan Police Department, have adopted this technology to improve the quality of policing in their communities. The existing evaluation evidence on the intended and unintended consequences of outfitting police officers with body-worn cameras is still developing.
This study reports the findings of a randomized controlled trial involving more than 400 police officers in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD).
The study shows that officers who wore cameras generated significantly fewer complaints and use of force reports relative to control officers without cameras. Officers who wore cameras also made more arrests and issued more citations than their non-camera-wearing counterparts.
In addition, a cost-benefit analysis revealed that savings from reduced complaints against officers, and the reduced time required to resolve such complaints, resulted in substantial cost savings for the police department. In 66% of complaint investigations, the body-worn camera evidence alone was enough to dispel or confirm the complaint against the officer.
Considering that LVMPD had already introduced reforms regarding use of force through a Collaborative Reform Initiative prior to implementing body-worn cameras, these findings suggest that body worn cameras can have compelling effects without increasing costs.
To read the complete report, click here.