Recent citizen deaths involving police use of force have increased discussion surrounding police accountability and community relations. One piece of this discussion is the use of body worn cameras (BWCs) by officers. Unfortunately, little rigorous research has been conducted to estimate the effectiveness of BWCs in reducing problematic police-citizen interactions. In this paper, we estimate two measures of effectiveness of BWCs by comparing incidents that occur in a squad assigned cameras to incidents that occur in a squad assigned control. First, we estimate the effect of being assigned a BWC (but not necessarily using the camera) on reducing complaints and resistance associated with incidents. Second, we employ data on BWC use to estimate the effect of cameras if they were used with full compliance. Together, these two estimates provide a plausible range of effectiveness that policymakers can expect from BWCs. We find that BWCs have no effect on the rate of arrest or resistance, but can substantially reduce complaints.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine