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Primer on Body-Worn Cameras for Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2012
28 pages

This report presents an introduction to body-worn camera systems (BWCs) by law enforcement officers and highlights issues and factors that law enforcement organizations should consider prior to and during implementation.


Whereas in-car video cameras record what can be seen from an officer's car, BWCs record what is happening when an officer is engaged in duties outside of the car in order to supplement or expand on officer's activity when she/he is not visible to or in the range of the in-car camera. Functions of the BWC are to record evidence of activities and behaviors relevant to a crime, deter violence or negative behavior against an officer, and improve the accountability of police officers and reduce the number of complaints against officers. BWCs are mobile audio and video capture devices that allow officers to record what they see and hear. They can be attached to various body areas, including the head; by the helmet, glasses, or other means; or to the body by means of the pocket, badge or other means of attachment. In purchasing such a system, requirements and trade-offs will be dependent on the intended use, budget, unit coast, interoperability, operating environment, etc. Specifications to consider include battery life, video quality, recording limits, nigh recording, camera focal width, audio recording, camera placement, and radio integration capability. A reasonable set of recommendations for product selection was reported in the DHS SAVER Wearable Camera Systems Focus Group Report (SAVER, 2011). This report is reproduced in this report. Implementation issues are discussed. 17 references

Date Published: September 1, 2012