Body Camera Research Essay Sample

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A study conducted by Cambridge University in 2012 and 2013 examined the effect of body cameras when the full local police force in Rialto, Calif., began using them. In the first year of the technology’s introduction, use of force by officers fell 60 percent, while citizen complaints against police plunged 88 percent. ( Cameras have the potential to be a win-win, helping protect the public against police misconduct, and at the same time helping protect police against false accusations of abuse. We’re against pervasive government surveillance, but when cameras primarily serve the function of allowing public monitoring of the government instead of the other way around, we generally regard that as a good thing.

doi:10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2014.09.008 Cops and cameras: Officer perceptions of the use of body-worn cameras in law enforcement (Wesley g Jennings, lorie a fridell, Mathew d lynch) Proponents of these devices claim that they can improve the behaviors of both officer and citizen, increase officer safety, reduce use of force and external complaints, and increase internal complaints (and thus officer accountability) From February 2012 to July 2013, a Cambridge University study examined the effects of “wearable” video cameras on patrol officers’ compliance rates in Rialto, California. In this particular study, police officers (N = 54) were randomly assigned to wear a body-worn camera (or not) based on the officer’s work shift. Over a 12-month study period, Rialto Police Department officers exhibited a 59% reduction in the use of force incidents and an 87.5% reduction in citizen complaints when compared to department estimates for all officers prior to implementation of body-worn cameras (Farrar & Ariel, 2013).

Additionally, significant treatment effects (body-worn camera shifts vs. control shifts) were achieved for use of force outcomes in which there were nearly 50% less incidents for body-worn camera shifts (Farrar & Ariel, 2013). Building upon this research, the Mesa (Arizona) Police Department conducted a program evaluation of “on-officer” body-worn cameras from October 2012 to September 2013. In this study, 50 police officers equipped with body-worn cameras were compared to 50 demographically similar officers who did not wear body-worn cameras. The one-year pilot study yielded a 40% decrease in complaints and a 75% decrease in use of force incidents across study officers Starting in April 2013, the Phoenix (Arizona) Police Department (PPD) equipped 56 officers with body-worn cameras and compared them to 50 control officers for one year. The study examined the effects of body-worn cameras on police officer complaints, as well as their impact on citizen-officer interactions (Rosenbaum et al., 2005 and White, 2014).

According to preliminary results, self-reported data indicated that most officers were comfortable wearing body-worn cameras, yet did not believe they should be adopted for all frontline personnel in the department (White, 2013, September 5, White, 2014 and Katz and Kurtenbach, 2014, August 8). Also, self-reported police officer productivity increased for officers wearing body-worn cameras, while self-reported complaints against officers decreased by 60% during the study period; official records also indicated a 44% decrease in complaints against officers (Katz and Kurtenbach, 2014, August 8, White, 2013, September 5 and White, 2014). Officers who have negative views of body-worn cameras may subvert efforts by their agencies to acquire them or undermine effective implementation in the agencies that do adopt them. Conversely, officers who are supportive of body-worn cameras can produce an effective implementation that may even enhance the value of the body-worn cameras.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police ( IACP, 2003) surveyed officers about their perceptions of in-car cameras after they had experience with them. One-third of the officers reported that they felt safer as a result of the in-car cameras. Most of the officers (70%) reported that the in-car cameras had little or no impact on their behavior and higher percentages reported that the in-car cameras had no effect on how they handled incidents (86%) and their decisions to use force (89%). This study will contribute to the literature by providing one of the first studies ever to examine officer attitudes toward body-worn cameras by gauging the impressions of officers in an agency before body-worn cameras were placed in the field and prior to high profile incidents such as what occurred in Ferguson, Missouri. First, the officers generally reported considerably high rates of agreement to questions such as they believe that their agency should adopt body-worn cameras for all of their police officers, and that they would feel comfortable wearing body-worn cameras.

Second, the officers demonstrated fairly high levels of agreement that they felt that citizen behavior would improve if they (the officers) were wearing body-worn cameras. Third, while the ratings were more mixed toward the officers’ perception that wearing body-worn cameras would improve their own behavior and increase their likelihood of behaving “by-the-book”, they reported resoundingly more agreement that wearing body-worn cameras would not reduce their willingness to respond to calls for service. Fourth, much of the same sentiment was observed when considering the effect of body-worn cameras on their fellow officers’ behavior, although the officers’ were generally in greater agreement that the body-worn cameras would improve the behavior of their fellow officers and increase their fellow officers’ likelihood of behaving “by-the-book” relative to their perceived impact on their own behavior.

Comparatively, the officers also reported noticeably high levels of agreement that the use of body-worn cameras would not reduce their fellow officers’ willingness to respond to calls for service. Finally, the officers were somewhat mixed on their perceptions of the impact of wearing body-worn cameras on their own use of force, but they were much more in agreement that wearing body-worn cameras would reduce their and, more notably, their fellow officers’ number of external and internal complaints. “body cameras keep police work public”

“They were apprehensive initially when we got the cameras. It was the mentality of Big Brothers watching: ‘They’re just trying to catch us doing something,’ Martinez said. “What they found is they were able to write more complete reports. They come back and watch the videos and they saw their conviction rates go up.” The video adds nuance to the written police reports and provides a clearer idea of what an officer is facing in a given situation. Additionally, camera footage has likely saved the community money by avoiding lawsuits based on unsubstantiated claims. “We have seen a decrease in officer complaints from the public,” Martinez said. “We have also seen an increase in the convictions we’re getting in court. A defense attorney conies in. they want to make a plea or go to court, they found out we not only have video from the car that shows what happened. we have body worn cameras that either show their clients making a statement or giving a confession or acting a certain way.” Martinez says the end result is a more professional police department (Effects of anxiety on handgun shooting behavior of police officers: a pilot study DOI: 10.1080/10615800902977494

The current pilot study aimed at providing an initial assessment of how anxiety influences police officers’ shooting behavior. Seven police officers participated and completed an identical shooting exercise under two experimental conditions: low anxiety, against a non-threatening opponent, and high anxiety (HA), against a threatening opponent who occasionally shot back using colored soap cartridges. Measurements included shooting accuracy, movement times, head/body orientation, and blink behavior.

Results showed that under HA, shooting accuracy decreased. Underlying this degradation of performance, participants acted faster and made themselves smaller to reduce the chance of being hit. Furthermore, they blinked more often, leading to increases in the amount of time participants had their eyes closed. Findings provide support for attentional control theory, hereby also pointing to possible interventions to improve police officers’ shooting performance under pressure. As such, and by using a relatively small sample size, several processes were evaluated and compared between a HA and a LA condition. Despite the extra effort that participants invested, shooting accuracy showed a large and significant decrease under HA (i.e.,>20%; Table 1).

This is known as the Hawthorne effect
Confidential informants may be afraid to give information to police that are wearing body cameras. The cameras will also lead to more police officers being accused and getting in trouble for petty/political problems. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a body camera can cost up to around $1,000. Technology already exists for cameras to be equipped with facial recognition software that could immediately identify anyone the cop comes in contact with. And with new threat level analysis of social media and other “watch list” mechanisms, cops will be motivated to stop someone without actual probable cause. This is extremely dangerous for liberty. This alone should halt your support for mandatory police cameras. Ends being let off with a warning: Remember the good cops who let you off on warnings for minor infractions? Say goodbye to that. Police cameras will be used to hold police accountable to their bosses more than to the public. Cops can turn them off: Cops can easily turn the cameras off, and precincts can delete or edit footage in their favor. Cameras are as good as useless if people don’t trust the system to preserve and use the footage wisely. Technology issues—what if the camera does not record? What if the camera fails? Rebuild credibility

Studies also argue that body cameras have cleared officers of wrongful accusations and serve as an objective witness during police/citizen encounters, which now provide some form of accountability.1 With that said, a private company donated body cameras to the Ferguson police2, and some see this as a start to better police community relations.

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