Police Body Cameras Show No Effect On Use Of Force Incidents, Complaints

"The cameras might encourage positive behavioral change and the video footage might be useful as evidence". 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.

"The RCPD has been thoroughly researching body-worn cameras for the last five years", said Lt. Mark Eisenbraun of the Rapid City Police Department's Criminal Investigations Division.

Harlan Yu, a representative for Upturn, an organization that studies how technology affects civil rights and social justice issues, questioned the use of cameras at all, pointing out that some departments "allow officers to review footage before writing their initial reports of violent incidents".

The study explains that after two years of data collection, the cameras "had no detectable, meaningful effect on documented uses of force or civilian complaints". An officer-worn body camera could thus be redundant in the age of smartphones and connectivity.

There are now no state laws regarding a general policy of use for body-worn cameras in law enforcement, nor any laws dealing with the length of time law enforcement should store the videos. There also wasn't a significant effect on prosecutions in courts between the arresting officers who wore the cameras and those who didn't.


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

Elsewhere in South Dakota, the Sioux Falls Police Department is conducting a pilot program but has yet to implement body cameras across the agency.

The full results of the study can be found here. "I don't think that this study suggests that at all", he says.

"I am a little concerned that people might misconstrue the information and suggest that the body-worn cameras have no value". Some had suggested the man was not armed, but Newsham says the video shows otherwise.

"I think we're surprised by the result", D.C. Chief of Police Peter Newsham said. "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".


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