Bodycams increase conviction rates in cases of assault against police officers by up to 93%

A new study has found, with quantitative methods, that bodycams have significant evidentiary value, especially in cases of violence against police officers. This research proves that bodycams increase conviction rates of those who assault police officers in the line of duty.

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The results of the cluster-randomised control trial shows a whopping 93% increase in the odds of conviction in cases of assault against police officers. As such bodycams increase conviction rates to a level nearly unheard of in courts worldwide. The study also found that bodycams have significant value in terms of evidence in other types of cases.

Bodycams increases conviction rates due to objective, complete evidence

Earlier research has shown that bodycams have a clear impact in court outcomes related to domestic violence, that there is a higher percentage of arrests when bodycams are present, increases in early guilty pleas as a result of bodycam evidence, increases in the number of early guilty pleas and play an important role for both parties when cases do go to court. Now new research, conducted with rigorous quantitative scientific methods, has concluded that bodycams also greatly increase the chance of conviction when officers are attacked in the line of duty.

“For the prosecution of crimes against police officers (assault/battery of an officer, resisting arrest), BWCs (Body-worn-cameras) led to a 93% increase in the odds of a conviction or adjudication withheld outcome relative to control charges.” (1)

As bodycams are in a uniquely powerful position to capture any such assault against frontline professionals, it is not a surprising result. This research is, however, one of the first conducted that methodologically shows the extraordinary impact of bodycams on conviction rates.

“Bodycams provide objective evidence that is beneficial to all parties”

As bodycams capture an entire interaction, including what was said, they can provide a full account of what occurred. This is beneficial for both concerned parties, for the accuracy of police reports, and for the quality and speed of court outcomes.

This new study also found that there is a significant increase in both charges and conviction rates related to domestic violence. The researchers identify that witness statements made with bodycams right after an incident occurred are often more complete and objective than follow-up contact with victims. Bodycam evidence also often influences the length of (pre) trial processes, as visual and verbal evidence is consistently accepted by courts worldwide. It also has an impact on would-be perpetrators, who when confronted with visual evidence of their crimes, are more quick to file a guilty plea and accept court outcomes.  This again leads to time, and money saved by police departments, legal teams as well as the justice system.

The research confirmed that court outcomes in specific cases can greatly be influenced by the presence of evidence in the form of bodycam footage. As impartial observers, they completely record what was said and done, affording both parties the legal tools to defend their actions. When it comes to violence against police officers, bodycams have shown to greatly impact the conviction rates of offenders, leading to more satisfied officers who know they are protected by the bodycam, as well as the law. With more objective evidence in the form of bodycam footage, officers will know that their conduct can be vindicated, and that those who commit crimes against them will face legal consequences. This in turn increases job satisfaction and mental well-being, as police officers are supported by their employer and the law. It also increases their safety over time, as would-be offenders know that they will always be charged for crimes committed against law enforcement officers.

  • Petersen, K., Mouro, A., Papy, D. et al (2021) Seeing is believing: the impact of body-worn cameras on court outcomes, a cluster-randomized controlled trial in Miami Beach. Journal of Experimental Criminology https://doi.org/10.1007/s11292-021-09479-6

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