Nav: Home

Despite general support for police use of body-worn cameras, impacts may be overestimated

March 25, 2019

Police use of body-worn cameras is growing rapidly in the United States. New research that looked at 70 studies of body-worn cameras concludes that while officers and citizens generally support using the cameras, the devices may not have had significant or consistent effects on most measures of behavior by officers or citizens, or on citizens' views of the police.

The study, by researchers at George Mason University's (GMU) Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, appears in Criminology & Public Policy, a publication of the American Society of Criminology.

"Expectations and concerns surrounding body-worn cameras among police leaders and citizens have not yet been realized by and large in the ways anticipated by each," according to Cynthia Lum, professor of criminology, law, and society at GMU, who led the study. "It's likely that body-worn cameras alone will not be an easy panacea for improving police performance, accountability, and relationships with citizens."

Researchers examined 70 empirical studies of body-worn cameras published in the United States and globally through June 2018. The studies addressed the impact of body-worn cameras on officers' behavior and on officers' attitudes toward body-worn cameras, as well as the impact of the devices on citizens' behavior, and citizens' and communities' attitudes toward body-worn cameras. The studies also considered the impact of body-worn cameras on criminal investigations and on law enforcement organizations.

The researchers found that in general, officers seem supportive of body-worn cameras, especially as they gain more experience with them. However, the devices have not produced dramatic changes in police behavior, the study concludes. Other findings from the study:
  • Body-worn cameras seem to reduce complaints against officers, but it is unclear whether and to what degree these changes reflect citizens' reporting behaviors or improvements in officers' behavior or their interactions with citizens. It is also unclear if the devices improve citizens' satisfaction with police encounters, as might be expected if the cameras affected police behavior substantially.

  • Wearing body-worn cameras has not led to de-policing, also known as a "Ferguson effect" in which officers pull back from being productive in their duties. Cameras do not seem to discourage police contacts or officer-initiated activities, and arrests seem as likely to increase or decrease with use of the devices.

  • Citizens are also generally supportive of police using body-worn cameras, but it's unclear that their use improves citizens' views of police, their behaviors toward police officers, or their relationships with police.

"To maximize the positive impacts of body-worn cameras, we suggest more attention to the ways and contexts--organizational and community--in which the devices are most beneficial or harmful," notes Christopher S. Koper, associate professor of criminology, law, and society at GMU, who coauthored the study. "Attention should also be paid to how the cameras can be used in police training, management, and internal investigations to improve police performance, accountability, and legitimacy in the community."
Summarized from Criminology & Public Policy, Research on Body-Worn Cameras: What We Know, What We Need to Know by Lum, C, Stoltz, M, Koper, CS, and Scherer, JA (George Mason University). Copyright 2019 The American Society of Criminology. All rights reserved.

Crime and Justice Research Alliance

Related Behavior Articles:

Is Instagram behavior motivated by a desire to belong?
Does a desire to belong and perceived social support drive a person's frequency of Instagram use?
A 3D view of climatic behavior at the third pole
Research across several areas of the 'Third Pole' -- the high-mountain region centered on the Tibetan Plateau -- shows a seasonal cycle in how near-surface temperature changes with elevation.
Witnessing uncivil behavior
When people witness poor customer service, a manager's intervention can help reduce hostility toward the company or brand, according to WSU research.
Whole-brain imaging of mice during behavior
In a study published in Neuron, Emilie Macé from Botond Roska's group and collaborators demonstrate how functional ultrasound imaging can yield high-resolution, brain-wide activity maps of mice for specific behaviors.
Swarmlike collective behavior in bicycling
Nature is full of examples of large-scale collective behavior; humans also exhibit this behavior, most notably in pelotons, the mass of riders in bicycle races.
My counterpart determines my behavior
Whether individuals grow up in a working-class environment or in an academic household, they take on behaviors that are typical for their class -- so goes the hypothesis.
A gene required for addictive behavior
Cocaine can have a devastating effect on people. It directly stimulates the brain's reward center, and, more importantly, induces long-term changes to the reward circuitry that are responsible for addictive behaviors.
Supercomputing the emergence of material behavior
Chemists at the University of California, San Diego designed the first artificial protein assembly (C98RhuA) whose conformational dynamics can be chemically and mechanically toggled.
The neural circuitry of parental behavior
HHMI scientists have deconstructed the brain circuits that control parenting behavior in mice, and identified discrete sets of cells that control actions, motivations, and hormonal changes involved in nurturing young animals.
Parenting behavior in adoptive families
A new longitudinal study of adoptive families looked at whether symptoms of depression in adoptive fathers is also related to over-reactive parenting and behavior problems in children; the study also examined how social support networks affect parenting.
More Behavior News and Behavior Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.