Study Fewer complaints when officers have body cameras

Posted on Oct 03, 2014

While many citizens are calling for officers to wear body cameras to record their actions, the agents themselves are calling for the use of cameras, too. Despite the technology still being new for many departments, early reports show that when accountability is increased, there are fewer complaints and reports of incorrect information during an arrest, pull over or confrontation.

Michael White, a criminology professor at Arizona State University, studied five different police departments that have had officers wearing cameras since 2007. The report found fewer complaints against officers and fewer incidents of officers using force among all the departments, Real Change reported.

Technology aiding police departments

The data shows that with the increase of police accountability, there will be fewer problems, complaints or other issues reported on either side. Sam Walker, an emeritus professor at the University of Nebraska, explained that with the support of White's research, it shows that technology can be beneficial to police departments.

"It confirms the fact that it looks like they have a very positive effect on police conduct and police community relations," Walker added, according to the source.

Archiving issues

One of the issues with police-worn cameras is how long should departments archive the footage that each officer wears, the Island Packet reported. The American Civil Liberties Union is also addressing the issue of people being recorded who do not wish to have any footage of them released.

The U.S. Department of Justice is likely planning on adjusting the ruling that outlines how police officers can leverage recordings when covering their beats. However, body cameras could still reinvent how police departments use data while in the field.

Having constant information available is what makes some of the new policing technology work. While using real-time data allows officers to respond faster and more efficiently, which increases the chance of catching criminals, this cannot be done with body cameras.

Officers need camera training

Walker explained that some departments are adopting body cameras too quickly, Real Change reported.

"My concern is some [police departments] are rushing into it too fast, treating it like a fad when you need to do a lot of training and preparation and orientation," said Walker, according to the source.

However, there are other policing technologies available that are simple to use and can store information on the spot, which avoids waiting for the important data to be entered days or even a week later.

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