Body cameras have no effect on use of police force


Researchers found that slightly more officers with cameras reported using force than those without.

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. But the look by Washington's in-house research branch suggests otherwise - a finding that could shift the debate on one argument used to put the cameras in virtually every big city police department nationwide.

"The body cameras were proven to have not fundamentally changed policing", Kevin Donahue, the deputy mayor for public safety said.

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Meanwhile, almost every major police force in the country was in the process of implementing a body camera program, or had already done so, as several smaller studies showed positive results. Each officer will be outfitted with a "hot" camera for use in the field and a "cold" camera that will be charging at the police station.

David Yokum, director of the D.C. government research arm that conducted the study, said that "additional research that focuses on how camera footage is used in an evidentiary capacity-such as in court, officer training, and personnel matters-may show that a greater value of this tool exceeds traditional ideas".

"Many times when someone is filming with their cellphone, we'll either get the very beginning and nothing in the middle, or the very end, with nothing leading up to it", Chief Kral said.

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The big question about cameras now is, White says, "is it worth the cost?" The results are a disappointment to both law enforcement and community activists who were hopeful that the technology would help increase police accountability and transparency.

Since then, excessive use of force and shootings by police have remained relatively low.

And while cameras have had neutral effects in Washington, D.C., Yu says the devices might have harmful effects in places with policies that, say, allow officers to review footage before writing their initial reports of violent incidents.

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The full results of the study can be found here. "In today's environment in policing, having legitimacy is something we have to have". "As we conclude this comprehensive study, we will recommit ourselves to always evaluating what works -and what does not- to better serve our residents and creating a safer, stronger DC".