A recent analysis published in Campbell Systematic Reviews indicates that body cameras worn by police do not have clear or consistent effects on officers’ use of force, arrests, or other activities. Nor do they have significant effects on citizens’ calls to police or assaults or resistance against officers. Body-worn cameras can reduce the number of citizen complaints against police officers, but it is unclear whether this finding signals an improvement in the quality of police-citizen interactions or a change in reporting.
The analysis summarizes evidence from 30 studies on the effects of body-worn cameras on various officer and citizen behaviors.
“For the police agencies that have already purchased body-worn cameras, researchers should continue testing for ways in which both police and citizens might gain benefits from the cameras’ continued use,” said lead author Cynthia Lum, PhD, of George Mason University. “These could include limiting the discretion that officers have with body-worn camera use; using body-worn cameras for coaching, training, or evidentiary purposes; and finding ways that body-worn cameras can be used to strengthen police-citizen relationships, internal investigations, or accountability systems.”