New study proves value of bodycams in establishing trust between police and the community

A new study by researchers at Stockton University, American University and Georgia State University reveals that bodycams have genuine value when it comes to accountability.

Bodycams ZEPCAM round below

Despite the number of success stories from different organisations using bodycams, further research is needed to confirm certain hypotheses. Previous research has already shown that for every dollar spent on bodycams, communities get about 5 dollars back in benefit.

Bodycams influence number of investigations

New findings from a study of police complaints in Chicago prove that bodycam video footage also has an impact on investigations and the number of disciplinary actions against police officers in the US. The working paper has recently been published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

In the study, citizen complaint data from the Chicago Police Department and Civilian Office of Police Accountability filed between 2012-2020 was reviewed. Nusret Sahin, Stockton University Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice and a lead author on the study comments: “We wanted to determine if video from the body-worn camera (BWC) affects the conclusion of the investigation, and whether bias against complainants based on race would be reduced”.
The research indicated a positive effect: thanks to the use of bodycams, the dismissal of investigations due to insufficient evidence (“not sustained”) significantly decreased. There was also a significant increase in disciplinary actions against police officers (“sustained” outcomes), now that there was enough evidence to sanction their misconduct.

Less disparities in complaints across racial groups

Another interesting finding is that disparities in complaints across racial groups for the “unsustained” category fade away with the implementation of BWCs.
According to Sahin, the goal of his research is to improve the relationships and establish trust between police and the community. Sahin also trains the police in procedural justice techniques and has previously worked with police in Atlantic City and Pleasantville.

Findings suggest that when people understand a process which they also believe to be fair, they are more likely to accept the results – even if this isn’t always in their favour. Sahin underlines the fact that bodycams are valuable when it comes to increasing accountability: “Our findings indicate that BWCs strengthen accountability if footage from these devices is utilised effectively in internal investigations.”

>> Read the full paper online here

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