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

October 20, 2017 10:17 PM

A new study suggests police officer's body-worn cameras had no effect on use of force incidents or civilian complaints in the nation's capital.

The research was released this week by the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington D.C.

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The department set out to study the relationship between body camera usage and the amount of civilian complaints and use of force incidents. Leaders wanted to see if the cameras decreased those reports.

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."

RELATED: Minneapolis Leaders Request Response from Police on Body Camera Audit Findings

Dr. James Densley is an associate professor at Metro State University in Minneapolis. He studies police training and police-community relations. Densely said this study appears to be one of the most "rigorous" studies done to date.

"This could become grounds for (departments) to say, you know what, we need to revisit this and not go down that path," Densley said.

But in his own research, Densley said body cameras have affects that cannot be statistically measured in some cases.

RELATED: Minneapolis Leaders Request Response from Police on Body Camera Audit Findings

"I think there is a residual impact of body cameras that is perhaps not tested in this study," Densley said. "The presence of body cameras is reassuring to the community."

Others argue this study proves body cameras are not a good investment for police departments. Michelle Gross, president of Communities United Against Police Brutality, said the public rarely sees body camera footage in the state of Minnesota because of data privacy laws.

RELATED: St. Paul Police Roll Out new Body Camera Program

"There is really not a good tool for police accountability," she said. "Departments really need to see why they want those cameras and really think hard about whether the expenditure of tax payer money is worthwhile based on their goals for those cameras."

Credits

Kirsten Swanson

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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