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Body cams have no effect on police use of force

Body cams have no effect on police use of force”

The D.C. research looked at a period where the police force was rolling out its body camera program - and some officers had the cameras while others were still waiting.

Another possibility is that use-of-force issues before body cameras were employed went largely unreported, and declined after cameras were added.

"I think we're surprised by the result. I think a lot of people were suggesting that the body-worn cameras would change behavior", Chief of Police Peter Newsham told NPR.

Overall, the study found that the presence of the body camera had little to no effect on whether officers used force against D.C. residents.

The department has a handful of body cameras that only select second-shift officers could wear.

His group worked with local police officials to make sure that cameras were handed out in a way that let the researchers carefully compare two groups: officers who were randomly assigned to get cameras, and those who were not. It is very well done. "And that's not a small issue, because there have been many studies of body-worn cameras that are not rigorous", Arizona State University body-cam researcher Michael White said.

"We learned that BWCs (body worn cameras) do not have a detectable average effects on documented uses of force or civilian complaints". But even in the first month and a half of implementation-presumably before officers became accustomed to their presence-there was still no statistical difference in use-of-force incidents or citizen compaints.

But body cameras are costly.

Though some police departments were reluctant, most contended the videos would most often exonerate officers facing allegations of misconduct, provide the public with a unique perspective of officer's work and be an invaluable tool for training. "The hope as expressed in the report was that, ".it would benefit the District by improving police services, increasing accountability for individual interactions, and strengthening police-community relations.

The MPD report noted that the findings might be peculiar to Washington, DC, where the police force has responsibility and experience in supporting a variety of large-scale events, from presidential inaugurations to frequent concerts festivals and protests. Graphic footage that was eventually released showed Trainer and his partner giving aid to Sterling, who was bleeding out on the street. Some had suggested the man was not armed, but Newsham says the video shows otherwise. A year later, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed one of the most expansive police body-worn camera programs in the country into law, and an expansive roll-out began.



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