In the summer of 2014, two critical cases pressured the federal government to support transparency and accountability from law enforcement. Employing body-worn cameras is identified to be one of the ways that this can be done – upholding both the civilians and the officers’ rights should critical incidents occur. The federal government made funding available through grants to assist with the implementation of body-worn camera programs for agencies across the country.
Dr. Michael White joins the Justice Clearinghouse to shed light on how BWC programs impacts policing. He is a professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University and is the Co-Director of Training and Technical Assistance for the US DOJ’s BWC Policy Implementation Program (PIP).
Dr. White will unpack the findings of several studies that have been conducted to measure the effectivity of implementing Body-Worn Camera (BWC) Programs. He will also look at the policy guidelines, common practices, and other resources related to BWC programs. Some of the points he discussed in the course include:
- An overview of the history that led to the implementation of body-worn cameras in law enforcement agencies across the US.
- The potential benefits of employing BWC to law enforcement.
- The concerns and consequences of implementing a BWC program including privacy – on both the citizens and officers, investment requirements to procure the devices, the groundwork involved with training and policy-making, and the impact on citizen attitudes and officer morale.
The key findings from the various studies conducted that exhibit:
- High level of police support and acceptance of the technology that was further augmented upon the use of the device.
- How citizens – both the general population and those who interacted with the police perceive BWC as something positive that will improve transparency, evidence gathering and urge police officers and citizens to interact more amicably.
- The evidentiary value as witnessed with the increased guilty pleas, reduced investigative time, and financial savings.
- The decline in the number of use of force cases and citizen complaints.
- The Policy Implementing Program (PIP) that provides a wide range of services to assist agencies to get the funding they need and help with resources and guideline to ensure program policy approval.
- An overview of the policy review process that agencies must go through to be granted funding for their BWC programs.
- A snapshot of the scorecard that serves as guidelines in drafting the agencies’ BWC program policy.
- The Policy Analysis Study conducted on 129 PIP agencies looking at common trends and approaches on their policies with findings related to activation, citizen notification, officer authority to review, and supervisor authority to review.
- The various BWC resources that agencies may reference when creating their own BWC program and drafting its policy.
- Poll questions helped identify the webinar participants’ interest and involvement withbody-worn cameras, the most important benefits, as well as the challenges and issues related to the technology.
The audience raised during the Q&A their concerns on:
- The type of assistance that Dr. Michael’s team provide to the agencies including assisting with technicalities and policies.
- The pros and cons of having a policy drafted prior applying for a grant.
- The current availability of federal funding for agencies who are yet to apply for grants.
- Studies and policies related to privacy and restrictions on the use of body-worn cameras.
- The scope of agencies qualified to apply for funding grants.
- The role of dashcams and the possibility of integrating these with body-worn cameras.
- How the technology of body-worn cameras is expected to be utilized by agencies in the future, and how the technology will evolve.
- BJA National BWC Toolkit https://www.bja.gov/bwc
- BWC TTA Website https://www.bwctta.com
- Training and Tactical Assistance for federally-funded agencies
- Complaint Directory: http://www.bwctta.com/resources/bwc‐resources/impact‐bwcs‐citizen‐complaints‐directory‐outcomes
- Force Directory: http://www.bwctta.com/resources/bwc‐resources/impacts‐bwcs‐use‐force‐directory‐outcomes
- IACP Body Worn Cameras Policy Model: http://www.theiacp.org/model-policy/model_policy/body-worn-cameras/
- ACLU Body Worn Cameras Model Policies: https://www.aclu.org/other/police-body-mounted-cameras-right-policies-place-win-all
- George Mason University Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy: http://cebcp.org/technology/body-cameras/
- National Institute of Justice Market Survey: https://www.nij.gov/topics/law-enforcement/technology/Pages/body-worn-camera-overview-of-expanding-market.aspx