Cameras

The concrete effects of body cameras on police accountability – GCN.com

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The concrete effects of body cameras on police accountability

By Suat Cubukcu, Erdal Tekin, Nusret Sahin, Volkan TopalliNov 16, 2021

Without video evidence, it’s unlikely we would have ever heard of George Floyd or witnessed the prosecution of his killer, a Minneapolis police officer.

The recording of Floyd’s killing echoed the documentation in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric …….

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The concrete effects of body cameras on police accountability

Without video evidence, it’s unlikely we would have ever heard of George Floyd or witnessed the prosecution of his killer, a Minneapolis police officer.

The recording of Floyd’s killing echoed the documentation in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, two Black men who were killed at the hands of police.

The circulation of such videos – witness cellphones, dashcams and police body-worn cameras – have helped awaken a protest movement centered on police accountability and systemic racism in the United States.

They have also diminished trust in law enforcement, which has dipped to its lowest level since 1993, according to a 2020 Gallup Survey. Nineteen percent of Black Americans said they trust police, compared to 56% of white Americans. And a majority of those polled, 56%, called for major reforms in policing, including 88% of Black people and 51% of white people.

Much discussion on police reform revolves around police officer recruitment, training processes and re-budgeting or “defunding” the police.

But another way to reform policing is to make police services more transparent and officers more accountable. Over the past decade, the implementation of body camera technology has rapidly expanded across major metropolitan police departments, including Washington, New York and Chicago.

We are criminologists and economists, and our recent study has found that providing police officers with body cameras has a substantive effect on investigations of police accountability. The cameras have also helped reduce racial bias against citizen complainants.

Increased fairness in investigations

The vast majority of U.S. public complaints against police officers are dismissed.

Only 2.1% of the citizen complaints filed in Chicago between 2010 and 2016 resulted in a disciplinary action against police officers, according to the Invisible Institute, a journalism organization that “collects and publishes information about police misconduct in Chicago” in its Citizens Police Data Project. This rate is about one-third lower when complainants are African Americans.

There is a similar pattern in cities like Columbus, Ohio, and Portland, Oregon.

Traditional strategies to address police misconduct have focused on internal affairs divisions in police departments, which investigate possible law-breaking incidents and professional misconduct within police forces, or citizen oversight review boards, which investigate citizen complaints. But both of these have been criticized for being biased against citizens.

Such investigations of police misconduct have relied heavily on eyewitness accounts, often producing “he said/she said” patterns of flawed evidence and, thus, inconclusive results.

This has changed, however, with the introduction of body camera technology.

While there have been dozens of studies on the impact of body cameras on police behavior – with some promising outcomes in the reduction in police wrongdoings – their effect on …….

Source: https://gcn.com/articles/2021/11/16/police-bodycam-accountability.aspx