How do body-worn cameras affect the amount and makeup of police-initiated activities?

Journal Article

How do body-worn cameras affect the amount and makeup of police-initiated activities?

A randomized controlled trial in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Abstract

Objectives
Examine how the amount and makeup of police-initiated activities changed after the introduction of body-worn cameras (BWCs).

Methods
From May 21 to November 22, 2016, patrol officers and sergeants from the Milwaukee Police Department were involved in a randomized controlled trial. Through a stratified random sampling procedure, half the officers (n = 252) were assigned BWCs, while officers from the control group (n = 252) continued business as usual. The counts of proactive activities, which included a total count of self-initiated events, as well as traffic stops, business checks, subject stops, and park and walks, were examined using random-effects negative binominal panel regression analyses. The models included a unique measure of contamination to assess its impact on officers’ proactivity.

Results
BWCs had no impact on the total amount of officer-initiated activities, traffic stops, or business checks. Officers with BWCs conducted approximately 8% fewer subject stops and 23% more park and walks than those in the control group. In all models, contamination levels were significantly, positively associated with the number of proactive activities that were conducted; however, the size of this effect was very small.

Conclusions
Results suggest that BWC-wearing officers may be less likely to engage in proactive activities that are highly discretionary and that could potentially lead to confrontations with community members. As departments continue to develop BWC programs or fine-tune their existing BWC policies, more research is needed to understand the degree to which BWCs affect officers’ behaviors and interactions with the public.

You can read the article here (this link will take you to an external site)

Research Area: 

Centers

To reuse content from Urban Institute, visit copyright.com, search for the publications, choose from a list of licenses, and complete the transaction.
LATEST IN Crime and Justice
To reuse content from Urban Institute, visit copyright.com, search for the publications, choose from a list of licenses, and complete the transaction.