Advertisement

The effects of body-worn cameras on police-citizen encounters and police activity: evaluation of a pilot implementation in Philadelphia, PA

  • Elizabeth R. GroffEmail author
  • Cory Haberman
  • Jennifer D. Wood
Article

Abstract

Objectives

Examine changes in officer behavior, when wearing body-worn cameras, as revealed by pedestrian stops, vehicle stops, arrests, use of force, and citizen complaints during a pilot implementation in a racially diverse jurisdiction in the Northeast region of the USA.

Methods

A quasi-experimental approach was used to examine the initial implementation of body-worn cameras (BWCs) in one district. This provided the opportunity for a natural experiment comparing officers in the district that deployed cameras with officers in three similar districts where no BWCs were deployed. Propensity score matching (PSM) was used to match BWC officers with non-BWC officers.

Results

BWC officers had about 38.3% fewer use of force incidents than non-BWC officers with similar numbers of use of force incidents in the previous year. On average, BWC officers made 46.4% fewer pedestrian stops and 39.2% fewer arrests than non-BWC officers. Vehicle stops and citizen complaints had nonsignificant declines for BWC officers.

Conclusions

The reductions in proactive policing by officers are consistent with a deterrence-based view that officers respond to the increased scrutiny by curtailing interactions with citizens, which in turn, limits the potential for conflict and for police supervisors to identify behavior worthy of disciplinary action. The lack of a significant reduction in citizen complaints supports the view that the effect of BWCs on negative officer behavior is contingent upon other factors in the settings in which cameras are deployed. Future research should examine the impacts of cameras on the narrowing of police discretion because of the important implications for police–community relations.

Keywords

Police body-worn cameras Use of force Citizen complaints Arrests Pedestrian stops Vehicle stops 

Notes

Supplementary material

11292_2019_9383_MOESM1_ESM.docx (35 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 35 kb)

References

  1. Apel, R. J., & Sweeten, G. (2010). Propensity score matching in criminology and criminal justice. In A. R. Piqueor & D. L. Weisburd (Eds.), Handbook of quantitative criminology (pp. 543–562). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ariel, B. (2016). Police body cameras in large police departments. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 106(4), 729–768.Google Scholar
  3. Ariel, B., Farrar, W. A., & Sutherland, A. (2015). The effect of police body-worn cameras on use of force and citizens’ complaints against the police: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 31(3), 509–535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ariel, B., Sutherland, A., Henstock, D., Young, J., Drover, P., Sykes, J., Megicks, S., & Henderson, R. (2016a). Report: Increases in police use of force in the presence of body-worn cameras are driven by officer discretion: A protocol-based subgroup analysis of ten randomized experiments. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 12(3), 453–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ariel, B., Sutherland, A., Henstock, D., Young, J., Drover, P., Sykes, J., Megicks, S., & Henderson, R. (2016b). Wearing body cameras increases assaults against officers and does not reduce police use of force: Results from a global multi-site experiment. European Journal of Criminology, 13(6), 744–755.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1477370816643734.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ariel, B., Sutherland, A., Henstock, D., Young, J., Drover, P., Sykes, J., Megicks, S., & Henderson, R. (2017). “Contagious accountability” a global multisite randomized controlled trial on the effect of police body-worn cameras on citizens’ complaints against the police. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 44(2), 293–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Austin, P. C. (2009). Balance diagnostics for comparing the distribution of baseline covariates between treatment groups in propensity-score matched samples. Statistics in Medicine, 28(25), 3083–3107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Braga, A. A., Barao, L., McDevitt, J., & Zimmerman, G. (2018a). The impact of body-worn cameras on complaints against officers and officer use of force incident reports: Preliminary evaluation findings. Retrieved from Boston, MA: https://www.northeastern.edu/csshresearch/irj/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2018/01/Boston-Police-Body-Worn-Camera-Inititiave-Preliminary-Report.pdf.
  9. Braga, A. A., Coldren, J. R., Sousa, W. H., Rodriguez, D., & Alper, O. (2017). The benefits of body-worn cameras: New findings from a randomized controlled trial at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice.Google Scholar
  10. Braga, A. A., Hureau, D. M., & Papachristos, A. V. (2012). An ex post facto evaluation framework for place-based police interventions. Evaluation Review, 35(6), 592–626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Braga, A. A., Sousa, W. H., Coldren, J. R., Jr., & Rodriguez, D. (2018b). The effects of body-worn cameras on police activity and police-citizen encounters: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 108(3), 511.Google Scholar
  12. Brunson, R. K. (2007). “Police don’t like black people”: African-American young men’s accumulated police experiences. Criminology & Public Policy, 6(1), 71–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cameron, A. C., & Trivedi, P. K. (2013). Regression analysis of count data (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Elrbaum.Google Scholar
  15. Cohen, J. (1992). A power primer. Psychological Bulletin, 112(1), 155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dehejia, R. H., & Wahba, S. (2002). Propensity score-matching methods for nonexperimental causal studies. Review of Economics and Statistics, 84(1), 151–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Edmonton Police Service. (2015). Body Worn Video: Considering the Evidence (Final Report of the Edmonton Police Service Body Worn Video Pilot Project). Edmonton, AB, Canada: Edmonton Police Service.Google Scholar
  18. Ellis, T., Jenkins, C., & Smith, P. (2015). Evaluation of the introduction of personal issue body worn video cameras (Operation Hyperion) on the Isle of Wight: Final report to Hampshire Constabulary.Google Scholar
  19. Farrar, W., & Ariel, B. (2013). Self-awareness to being watched and socially-desirable behavior: A field experiment on the effect of body-worn cameras and police use-of-force. Washington, DC: Police Foundation.Google Scholar
  20. Gau, J. M., & Brunson, R. K. (2010). Procedural justice and order maintenance policing: A study of inner-city young men’s perceptions of police legitimacy. Justice Quarterly, 27(2), 255–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Goodall, M. (2007). Guidance for the police use of body-worn video devices. London: Home Office retrieved from library.college.police.uk/docs/homeoffice/guidance-body-worn-devices.pdf.Google Scholar
  22. Goodison, S., & Wilson, T. (2017). Citizen perceptions of body worn cameras: A randomized controlled trial. Retrieved from Washington, DC: perf.memberclicks.net/assets/bodyworncameraperceptions.pdf.
  23. Grossmith, L., Owens, C., Finn, W., Mann, D., Davies, T., & Baika, L. (2015). Police, camera, evidence: London’s cluster randomised controlled trial of body worn video. London, United Kingdom: College of Policing and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC.Google Scholar
  24. Guo, S., & Fraser, M. (2015). Propensity score analysis: Statistical methods and applications (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.Google Scholar
  25. Haberman, C. P., Clutter, J., & Henderson, S. (2018). A quasi-experimental evaluation of the impact of bike-sharing stations on micro-level robbery occurrence. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 14(2), 227–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hansen, B. B., Fredrickson, M., Buckner, J., Errickson, J., Solenberger, P., Bertsekas, D. P., & Tseng, P. (2018). Optmatch: Functions for optimal matching v.9.9. Retrieved from: https://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/optmatch.
  27. Headley, A. M., Guerette, R. T., & Shariati, A. (2017). A field experiment of the impact of body-worn cameras (BWCs) on police officer behavior and perceptions. Journal of Criminal Justice, 53, 102–109.Google Scholar
  28. Hedberg, E., Katz, C. M., & Choate, D. E. (2017). Body-worn cameras and citizen interactions with police officers: Estimating plausible effects given varying compliance levels. Justice Quarterly, 34(4), 627–651.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Henstock, D., & Ariel, B. (2017). Testing the effects of police body-worn cameras on use of force during arrests: A randomised controlled trial in a large British police force. European Journal of Criminology, 14(6), 720–750.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1477370816686120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ho, D. E., Imai, K., King, G., & Stuart, E. (2006). MatchIt: Nonparametric preprocessing for parametric causal inference. Journal of Statistical Software, 42(8), 1–28.Google Scholar
  31. Hyland, S. S. (2018). Body-worn cameras in law enforcement agencies, 2016. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice.Google Scholar
  32. Jennings, W. G., Fridell, L. A., & Lynch, M. D. (2014). Cops and cameras: Officer perceptions of the use of body-worn cameras in law enforcement. Journal of Criminal Justice, 42(6), 549–556.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2014.09.008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jennings, W. G., Lynch, M. D., & Fridell, L. A. (2015). Evaluating the impact of police officer body-worn cameras (BWCs) on response-to-resistance and serious external complaints: Evidence from the Orlando police department (OPD) experience utilizing a randomized controlled experiment. Journal of Criminal Justice, 43(6), 480–486.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2015.10.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jennings, W. G., Fridell, L. A., Lynch, M., Jetelina, K. K., & Reingle Gonzalez, J. M. (2017). A quasi-experimental evaluation of the effects of police body-worn cameras (BWCs) on response-to-resistance in a large metropolitan police department. Deviant Behavior, 38(11), 1332–1339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Katz, C. M., Choate, D. E., Ready, J. R., Nuňo, L., Kurtenbach, C. M., & Kevin, S. (2014). Evaluating the impact of officer worn body cameras in the Phoenix Police Department.Google Scholar
  36. Koen, M. C. (2016). On-set with body-worn cameras in a police organization: Structures, practices, and technological frames. (Doctoral), George Mason University, Fairfax, VA. Retrieved from http://mars.gmu.edu/jspui/bitstream/handle/1920/10419/Koen_gmu_0883E_11230.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
  37. Lipsey, M. W., & Wilson, D. B. (2001). Practical meta-analysis. Thousands Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.Google Scholar
  38. Long, J. S., & Freese, J. (2014). Regression models for categorical dependent variables using Stata (Third ed.). College Station, TX: Stata Press.Google Scholar
  39. Lum, C., Koper, C., Merola, L., Sherer, A., & Reioux, A. (2015). Existing and ongoing body worn camera research: Knowledge gaps and opportunities. Report for the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. Retrieved from Fairfax, VA:Google Scholar
  40. Lum, C. M., & Koper, C. S. (2016). An evidence-assessment of the recommendations of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing: Implementation and research priorities. Retrieved from George Mason University: http://cebcp.org/wp-content/evidence-based-policing/IACP-GMU-Evidence-Assessment-Task-Force-FINAL.pdf.
  41. Lum, C., Stoltz, M., Koper, C.S., & Scherer, J. (2019). The research on body-worn cameras: What we know, what we need to know. Criminology and Public Policy, 18(1).Google Scholar
  42. MacDonald, H. (2016). The Ferguson effect lives on: Violence in American cities rose again in 2016, as cops backed off proactive policing. City Journal. Retrieved from https://www.cityjournal.org/html/ferguson-effect-lives-14919.html.
  43. Maskaly, J., Donner, C., Jennings, W. G., Ariel, B., & Sutherland, A. (2017). The effects of body-worn cameras (BWCs) on police and citizen outcomes: A state-of-the-art review. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 40(4), 672–688.Google Scholar
  44. McClure, David, Nancy La Vigne, Mathew Lynch, Laura Golian, Daviel Lawrence, and Aili Malm. (2017). How Body Cameras Affect Community Members' Perceptions of Police: Results From a Randomized Controlled Trial of One Agency's Pilot. Washington, DC: Justice Policy Center, Urban Institute. Retrieved from http://urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/91331/2001307-how-body-cameras-affect-community-members-perceptions-of-police_1.pdf.
  45. McCluskey, J. D., Uchida, C. D., Solomon, S. E., Wooditch, A., Connor, C., & Revier, L. (2019). Assessing the effects of body-worn cameras on procedural justice in the Los Angeles Police Department. Criminology. Published on-line 1/24/2019. https://doi-org.libproxy.temple.edu/10.1111/1745-9125.12201.
  46. Mesa Police Department. (2013). On-officer body camera system: Program evaluation and recommendations. Mesa, Arizona: Mesa Police Department.Google Scholar
  47. Nowacki, J. S., & Willits, D. (2016). Adoption of body cameras by United States police agencies: An organisational analysis. Policing and Society, 1–13.Google Scholar
  48. Pelfrey, W. V. J., & Keener, S. (2016). Police body worn cameras: A mixed method approach assessing perceptions of efficacy. Policing: An International Journal, 39(3), 491–506.  https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-02-2016-0019.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Peterson, B. E., Yu, L., La Vigne, N. G., & Lawrence, D. S. (2018). The Milwaukee Police Department’s body-worn camera program: Evaluation findings and key takeaways. Retrieved from Washington DC: https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/98461/the_milwaukee_police_departments_body_worn_camera_program_2.pdf.
  50. Philadelphia Police Department. (2018). Body-worn cameras, Directive 4.21. Retrieved from: http://www.phillypolice.com/assets/directives/D4.21-BodyWornCameras.pdf.
  51. Phillips, S. W., Wheeler, A., & Kim, D. (2016). The effect of police paramilitary unit raids on crime at micro-places in Buffalo, New York. Police Science & Management, 18(3), 206–219.Google Scholar
  52. Ratcliffe, J. H., Taniguchi, T., Groff, E. R., & Wood, J. D. (2011). The Philadelphia foot patrol experiment: A randomized controlled trial of police patrol effectiveness in violent crime hotspots. Criminology, 49(3), 795–831.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Ready, J. T., & Young, J. T. (2015). The impact of on-officer video cameras on police–citizen contacts: Findings from a controlled experiment in Mesa, AZ. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 1–14.Google Scholar
  54. Rowe, M., Pearson, G., & Turner, E. (2018). Body-worn cameras and the law of unintended consequences: Some questions arising from emergent practices. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 12(1), 83–90.  https://doi.org/10.1093/police/pax011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Rosenbaum, P. R., & Rubin, D. B. (1985). Constructing a control group using multivariate matched sampling. The American Statistician, 39(1), 33–38.Google Scholar
  56. Shadish, W. R., Cook, T. D., & Campbell, D. T. (2002). Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for generalized causal inference. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.Google Scholar
  57. Shjarback, J. A., Pyrooz, D. C., Wolfe, S. E., & Decker, S. H. (2017). De-policing and crime in the wake of Ferguson: Racialized changes in the quantity and quality of policing among Missouri police departments. Journal of Criminal Justice, 50, 42–52.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2017.04.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sullivan, C. J., & Loughran, T. (2014). Investigating the functional form of the self-control–delinquency relationship in a sample of serious young offenders. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 30(4), 709–730.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sutherland, A., Ariel, B., Farrar, W., & De Anda, R. (2017). Post-experimental follow-ups—Fade-out versus persistence effects: Rialto police body-worn camera experiment four years on. Journal of Criminal Justice, 53, 110–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Telep, C. W., Mitchell, R. J., & Weisburd, D. (2014). How much time should the police spend at crime hot spots? Answers from a police agency directed randomized field trial in Sacramento, California. Justice Quarterly, 31(5), 905–933.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. The President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing (“Task Force”). (2015). Final report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Retrieved from Washington, DC: http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/pdf/taskforce/Implementation_Guide.pdf.
  62. Toronto Police Service. (2016). Body-worn cameras: A report on the findings of the pilot project to test the value and feasibility of body-worn cameras for police officers in Toronto. Retrieved from Toronto, ON: http://www.tpsb.ca/component/jdownloads/send/40-body-worn-cameras/534-toronto-police-service-bwc.
  63. Wallace, D., White, M. D., Gaub, J. E., & Todak, N. (2018). Body-worn cameras as a potential source of depolicing: Testing for camera-induced passivity. Criminology., 56(3), 481–509.  https://doi.org/10.1111/1745-9125.12179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Weisburd, D., Groff, E. R., Jones, G., Cave, B., Amendola, K., Yang, S.-M., & Emison, R. F. (2015). The Dallas patrol management experiment: Can AVL technologies be used to harness unallocated patrol time for crime prevention? Journal of Experimental Criminology, 1–25. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11292-015-9234-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. White, M. D. (2014). Police Officer Body-Worn Cameras: Assessing the Evidence. Retrieved from Washington, DC: https://www.ojpdiagnosticcenter.org/sites/default/files/spotlight/download/Police_Officer_Body-Worn_Cameras.pdf.
  66. White, M. D., Gaub, J. E., & Todak, N. (2017). Exploring the potential for body-worn cameras to reduce violence in police–citizen encounters. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 12(1), 66–76.  https://doi.org/10.1093/police/paw057.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. White, M. D., Todak, N., & Gaub, J. E. (2018). Examining body-worn camera integration and acceptance among police officers, citizens, and external stakeholders. Criminology & Public Policy, 17(3), 649–677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wolfe, S. E., & Nix, J. (2016). The alleged “Ferguson Effect” and police willingness to engage in community partnership. Law and Human Behavior, 40(1), 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wood, J., Sorg, E., Groff, E., Ratcliffe, J., & Taylor, C. (2014). Cops as treatment providers: Realities and ironies of police work in a foot patrol experiment. Policing and Society: An International Journal of Research and Policy, 24(3), 362–379.Google Scholar
  70. Wood, J. D., & Groff, E. R. (2019). Reimagining guardians and guardianship with the advent of body worn cameras. Criminal Justice Review, 44(1),60–70 https://doi.org/10.1177/0734016818814895.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Wooldridge, J. M. (2010). Econometric analysis of cross section and panel data. Cambridge: MIT press.Google Scholar
  72. Yokum, D., Ravishankar, A., & Coppock, A. (2017). Evaluating the effects of police body-worn cameras: A randomized controlled trial. Retrieved from http://bwc.thelab.dc.gov/TheLabDC_MPD_BWC_Working_Paper_10.20.17.pdf.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Temple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.School of Criminal JusticeUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA

Personalised recommendations