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The Las Vegas Body-Worn Camera Experiment


Prepared remarks of NIJ Director David B. Muhlhausen delivered at a press event hosted by CNA.

November 27, 2017

Thank you, Sheriff Lombardo, and thank you all for being here today.

My name is David Muhlhausen and I am the director of the National Institute of Justice, or NIJ.

NIJ is the research, development, and evaluation arm of the Department of Justice. We fund research to answer some of the most timely and important questions in the criminal justice field.

Law enforcement agencies are one of our most important stakeholders. We are always looking for opportunities to encourage and support partnerships between researchers and law enforcement agencies, and help agencies use data and rigorous research to inform their policies and practices.

I’d like to congratulate the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department on conducting this important research, and especially Sheriff Joseph Lombardo for taking a leading role in this project. In the wake of the shooting in Las Vegas, this has obviously been a very turbulent and difficult time, and we are grateful to have Sheriff Lombardo with us here today.

I’d also like to congratulate the research team at CNA for their work with the police department and their informative data analysis. In particular, I’d like to congratulate Anthony Braga, Chip Coldren, Bill Souza, and Denise Rodriguez for their hard work on this project.

Research is incredibly important in today’s law enforcement environment. Across the country, every law enforcement agency works within constraints of budget, personnel, and a limited ability to be able to prepare for the unpredictable.

Against this backdrop, we have the obligation to do our best to understand what works and what doesn’t, so we can put our limited resources into supporting effective programs, policies, and practices, and discontinue those that we find to be ineffective.

The study we’re here to discuss today is a perfect example of the relevant, rigorous research that NIJ aims to fund to inform the criminal justice field and answer these questions of effectiveness.

In this study, the Las Vegas Police Department partnered with CNA researchers on a 12-month randomized control experiment involving 400 officers. The study asked important questions and used a highly rigorous research model, a randomized control trial, to better understand the effectiveness of body-worn cameras. This effort is both vital and timely. Although body-worn cameras have been at the forefront of many conversations about policing over the past years, there’s still limited data to help us understand their true effectiveness and impact.

You have heard some of the research findings from Sergeant Lombardo. The study found that police are more proactive in crime prevention activities when wearing cameras. Body-worn cameras were found to provide compelling evidence to build legal cases. Their use largely affirmed and validated positive officer behavior, and protected police from false or frivolous complaints. They also reduced inappropriate use of force incidents, and saved the Las Vegas Metro Police Department millions of dollars through a reduction of complaints against officers.

The findings from this research can help police improve their performance with better evidence for criminal cases in court, better examples and content to be used in trainings, rapid resolution of complaints against police, increased transparency, and, most importantly, increased officer safety.

The findings of this study provide evidence that body-worn cameras directly contribute to the Department of Justice’s goal to increase officer safety.

The work done in this study will be helpful not only in Las Vegas, but to law enforcement, communities, and policymakers across the country, from the local to the federal levels.

NIJ will continue to invest in these rigorous research to answer important questions about the issues that our law enforcement face today. I look forward to being able to share with you results of other successful studies over the next years.

Congratulations again to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the CNA team on a research study well done.

Thank you very much.