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Body-Worn Cameras: Investigating and Evaluating Their Use by Police


I recently discussed NIJ’s research on the use of body-worn cameras in a short video about the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s body-worn camera toolkit. Because this technology has been front and center in the national discussion, I thought it was important for me to remind viewers that, to date, there has been little scientific research to help law enforcement executives and other officials decide whether and how to implement the use of body-worn cameras.

As a scientist, I believe it’s important to note that technologies, like body-worn cameras, are always evolving — which is why our understanding of such technologies must also continue to evolve.

As the Director of the U.S. Department of Justice’s scientific research and evaluation agency, I remain ever-mindful of our goal of producing the most relevant science possible to inform the nation’s development of smart policies and practices.

NIJ is currently supporting two rigorous studies about police use of body-worn cameras:

  • Researchers at CNA Corporation are examining the impact of body-worn cameras worn by 400 officers in the Las Vegas Metro Police Department, including adherence to department policy and the effect on patrol officers’ use. In addition to looking at the effect of the cameras in police-citizen encounters — including measures of use of force — the researchers are performing a cost-benefit analysis to estimate the time officers spend in court or on suspension as a result of negative interactions with citizens.
  • The Los Angeles Police Foundation is conducting an evaluation of body-worn cameras in the Los Angeles Police Department. Like the Las Vegas study, this one is also examining how body-worn video technology is used in the field and its impact on police-citizen behavior and on crime. The researchers are using a wide range of data, including information on citizen complaints, use of force, and crime.

I hope you enjoy the short video and visit NIJ.gov’s body-worn camera page for more information about our portfolio of research on the topic.

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