Body Cameras Have Little Effect on Police Behavior

Posted October 22, 2017

The study, according to NPR, followed the police force in Washington, D.C., where 2,600 of its officers wear body cameras. In a statement released by Mayor Bowser's office, the mayor's office and police department express confidence that the body-worn cameras can still provide opportunities to train officers. The study ran from June 2015 to last December. "The cameras might encourage positive behavioral change and the video footage might be useful as evidence".

He then hedged and gave his officers the benefit of the doubt, saying that perhaps there was no statistical change because his officers "were doing the right thing in the first place". A body camera can be used to help either exonerate an officer or confirm officer misconduct when a complaint is filed.

David Yokum, director of the D.C. government research arm that conducted the study, said that "additional research that focuses on how camera footage is used in an evidentiary capacity-such as in court, officer training, and personnel matters-may show that a greater value of this tool exceeds traditional ideas". "When you have a department in that kind of state, I don't think you're going to see large reductions in use of force and complaints, because you don't need to".

The big question about cameras now is, White says: "Is it worth the cost?" "As a result, the study's authors concluded that police agencies, ". should not expect dramatic reductions in documented uses of force or complaints, or other large-scale shifts in police behavior, exclusively from the deployment of this technology". The results are a disappointment to both law enforcement and community activists who were hopeful that the technology would help increase police accountability and transparency.

"I thought it would have a difference on police and civilian behavior", Newsham said. Meaning, police abuse is about the same as it has always been, even with the body cameras being worn by officers.

One 2012 study in Rialto, California, suggested the body cameras have a "calming" effect. Some had suggested the man was not armed, but Newsham says the video shows otherwise.

"Police departments have been rushing to body cameras without sufficiently deciding what the goal is", said Seth Stoughton, a former officer and a law professor at the University of SC.