Looking at the Impact on Policing of Body Worn Cameras
Dr. Craig Uchida, Justice & Security Strategies, Inc., discusses the importance of using research to examine the impact of body-worn cameras. He leads an NIJ-supported project to evaluate the use of body-worn cameras by law enforcement to determine if they improve police behavior and relationships with the community.
Policing is at a crossroads right now in terms of their relationship with the community. Body Worn Cameras are, again, one tool that have not been really analyzed, evaluated, examined to determine really whether those cameras are going to help reduce friction in the community.
One of the things we are doing with the evaluation that is funded by NIJ is to examine those issues and try to determine whether cameras have any effect on police behavior in the bigger context of things in the United States. I think there is a need not only to use cameras but also to engage in community policing activities, other ways of engaging the community to quell some of the issues and problems that are emerging and have been there in the United States among police departments.
One of the major issues today is about procedural justice. Procedural justice really means how much respect, how much trust, how much legitimacy do the police have in the field and when you come down to it, it really means how do officers behave.
We have actually begun the evaluation and it is multi-faceted. We are doing experimental design. We are using methods to measure police activity that is a lot deeper than just doing ride-alongs and just doing interviews. We are doing extensive surveys of the officers.
We are doing three waves of surveys of almost 300 police officers. So, we are going to look at them, and have looked at them, prior to implementation of the cameras. We are going to do another survey about five months after implementation. Then we will do another survey six months after that.
Prior to wearing the cameras it looks like their procedural justice was very high. After they wear the cameras we hope, perhaps, that it stays high or increases, but if it stays the same the null hypothesis is that there is no change.
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