The Quarterly will keep our law enforcement agencies and their partners and supporters informed of developments, trends, and news within the BWC field and encourage involvement in our ongoing activities. The Quarterly provides the most up-to-date tools and technical assistance materials for your continued success in navigating and implementing a long-lasting, successful BWC program.
In This Issue:
BWC TTA Team Spotlight
The Benefits of Body-Worn Cameras
Featured BWC TTA Resources
Latest Research on BWCs
Special Feature: The Body-Worn Camera Training Guide
Tom Woodmansee is a senior advisor at CNA, working on BWC TTA. Before joining CNA, he worked for the Madison, WI, Police Department for 25 years. He was a patrol officer and an undercover narcotics officer, and spent 13- years as a detective. He also served on the SWAT team, first as a tactical operator, later as a negotiator and then a commander. He oversaw the police academy and several specialized investigative units. Mr. Woodmansee has worked with many agencies around the country on a variety of projects and systems improvements through BJA's Strategies for Policing Innovation program and the National Public Safety Partnership.
The Benefits of Body-Worn Cameras: New Findings from a Randomized Controlled Trial at The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
Many community stakeholders and criminal justice leaders have suggested placing body-worn cameras (BWCs) on police officers improves the civility of police-civilian encounters and enhances civilian perceptions of police transparency and legitimacy. In response, many police departments have adopted this technology to improve the quality of policing in their communities. However, the existing evaluation evidence on the intended and unintended consequences of outfitting police officers with BWCs is still developing. This study reports the findings of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) involving more than 400 police officers in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD). We find that BWC-wearing officers generated significantly fewer complaints and use of force reports relative to control officers without cameras. BWC-wearing officers also made more arrests and issued more citations than their non-BWC-wearing controls, by small margins. In addition, our cost-benefit analysis revealed that savings from the reduction of complaints against officers, and of the time required to resolve such complaints, resulted in substantial cost savings for the police department. 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 while introducing cost savings.
The Generic Request for Proposals serves as a guide for agencies wishing to obtain body-worn cameras via a competitive process and using a Request for Proposals (RFP) mechanism. It is not meant to supersede any federal, state, or local procurement requirements.
The Body-Worn Camera Speakers Bureau is one part of this comprehensive effort, connecting body-worn camera subject matter experts with associations and agencies that request a speaker at an organized state, local, or tribal event.
Our monthly webinars have covered topics such as best practices in the BWC procurement process; the importance of reviewing and refining the use-of-force policy in BWC programs; recommendations on how to meet the BJA requirements; the importance of these requirements, how PIP agencies fare in policy review; ways to avoid setbacks, model policy components; data retention and storage options; and ways to manage and respond to the media and community after a crisis- or high-profile event.
In January 2015, the Boston Police Department (BPD) committed to implement a pilot body worn camera (BWC) program for its officers. This pilot was intended to help answer policy questions about how the system would operate if and when fully implemented across the department’s 2,100 officers and to address concerns of officers and community members on the use of the technology. The BPD implemented its BWC pilot program in September 2016. This pilot involved the random allocation of 100 BWCs to officers who wore these cameras for a 12-month intervention period. The impact evaluation uses a rigorous randomized controlled trial (RCT) design to evaluate the impact of BWCs on police-citizen interactions, police proactivity, police lawfulness, and police-community relations. This preliminary impact evaluation report summarizes the randomization of officers to treatment and control groups, assesses the balance between experimental groups, examines attrition in the treatment group, and estimates the statistical power of the experimental design.
This paper explores variations in procedural justice delivered in face-to-face encounters with citizens before and after the implementation of body-worn cameras (BWCs). The paper draws on recent advances in the measurement of procedural justice using systematic social observation of police in field settings in the Los Angeles Police Department. Data collected on 555 police citizen encounters are examined in bivariate and multivariate models exploring the primary hypothesis that BWCs affect procedural justice delivered by police directly and indirectly. Results indicate that significant increases in procedural justice during police-citizen encounters were directly attributable to BWCs' effect on police behavior as well as indirect effects on citizen disrespect and other variables. The implications for policy include explicit measurement and monitoring of procedural justice or elements such as officer discourtesy in departments adopting BWCs. Further research questions, and a more detailed examination of citizens’ behavior changes under BWC use are also considered in the context of the findings.
A recent review of the literature on the topic of BWCs conducted by White (2014) found only a handful of empirical studies of the technology completed by September 2013. These studies focused on a narrow set of research questions about the impact of the cameras on police behavior. Further, only a small subset of these studies rigorously examined BWCs using valid scientific methods. The need for more research in this area is paramount, as the adoption of BWCs will likely have important implications for police-citizen interactions, police management and budgets, safety and security, citizen privacy, citizen reporting and cooperation with police, and practices in the courts. But what research questions and types of research should be pursued and why? How can we build a translatable knowledge base that is responsive and rigorous? In our first report to the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (see Lum, Koper, Merola, Scherer & Reioux, 2015), we reviewed the existing and ongoing body-worn camera research to identify what was known about BWCs and what questions needed further research. In this report, we build on the knowledge about body-worn cameras by carrying out a national survey of state prosecutors’ offices to begin to understand the impacts of BWCs on the courts.
With the implementation of BWCs across the country increasing rapidly, little attention has been devoted to the deployment of BWCs by small agencies As a result, our understanding of the challenges of cameras in the small agency context is limited. In order to better understand how BWCs affect small agencies, researchers at Arizona State University conducted a multi-state survey of small law enforcement agency executives. The survey, which was administered via the online survey platform Qualtrics, was sent to jurisdictions with a population of 8,000 or more in 26 states. The surveys were sent directly to the city manager, and the instructions requested that the survey be completed survey by any jurisdiction with police a department comprised of fewer than 100 sworn officers.
The Body-Worn Camera Training Guide
Dr. Charles Katz, Dr. Michael White, and Jessica Herbert
The Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety at Arizona State University (ASU) has developed this facilitator’s guide and accompanying training slides as a resource for law enforcement agencies seeking to develop or modify their body‐worn camera (BWC) training programs. These training materials should be used only as reference documents for agencies developing and deploying BWCs. They are intended to provide guidance and are not designed for yearly continuing training or academy use. Law enforcement agencies should alter the materials as they deem necessary to meet their agency and constituent needs, as well as local and state laws.
To view both the BWC training guide and presentation, click here.
In Case You Missed It!
The Impact of BWCs: A look into the findings from the latest research on BWCs
On Wednesday, January 31, 2018, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m ET, the BWC TTA Team hosted a webinar that presented research findings on the impacts of body-worn cameras from several selected studies. Recent research has had mixed findings on BWC effects on use of force, complaints, and other outcomes. The body of literature on BWCs still characterizes their effect as largely positive, and ongoing research will play an important role in the technology’s continued diffusion.
To view the entire webinar recording, click here.
Practices from the Field:
Rapid City, South Dakota
Body-Worn Camera Program :
Rapid City, South Dakota, Police Department
Since the beginning of January 2018, the Rapid City Police Department and the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office in South Dakota have been engaged in a three-month pilot program testing three body-worn camera models. Fifteen patrol officers and fifteen patrol deputies were separated into three groups and each group tested the cameras during their daily duties. During regular meetings, officers and deputies identified strengths and weaknesses of the cameras, and helped shape the overall body camera program for both agencies. Beyond capturing interaction with the public and critical incidents, the officers and deputies have relied on the video for writing reports. Video has also been an indispensable tool for patrol sergeants to review use of force. Going into the pilot program, some of the officers and deputies were skeptical. However, now as they near the end of the program, most officers have said they will miss having a camera. They look forward to full implementation of body-worn cameras this summer.
To learn more about the Rapid City, South Dakota Police Department, visit their website.
If your agency would like to be featured in our next Quarterly Newsletter, pleasecontact us.
Citizen complaints about police have dropped since officers started wearing body-worn cameras, says Durham, North Carolina Police Chief C.J. Davis. Over the past year, the Police Department has issued 470 body cameras among its roughly 500 sworn officers, completing the roll out, Davis said. There have been fewer citizen and use-of-force complaints, Davis said during her quarterly crime report to the City Council on Monday night.
A small crowd gathered at city hall to discuss policy concerns surrounding body-worn cameras (BWC). The big question during the New Ulm, MN Police Department’s (NUPD) policy meeting involved when the BWCs are on and access to that data. One of the first concerns was of how an officer can decide on when to turn the camera on or off.
Officers with the Hudson, NY Police Department began to test body cameras Monday while on patrol. The department announced the pilot program at the Police Committee meeting of the Common Council on Monday, March 5th. Beginning March 5th, one officer per shift will be outfitted with a body camera during the 60-day trial period, Hudson Police Lt. David Miller said at the meeting.
A bill advancing through the Iowa Legislature would pull together law enforcement officers, attorneys and open records advocates to draft recommendations on the use of police body cameras and the release of footage. As those cameras become increasingly prevalent across the state, concerns about how Iowa law regulates them also are growing, said Iowa Public Information Board Executive Director Margaret Johnson.
Parma, OH police officers are one step closer to wearing body-worn cameras. After receiving word late last year that it was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs and Bureau of Justice Assistance, the city recently learned that its camera policy has been approved.
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Points of view or opinions in this content are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.
This project was supported by Grant No. 2015-DE-BX-K002 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view or opinions in this content are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.