Police Perceptions of Body-Worn Cameras

25 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2017 Last revised: 31 Aug 2017

See all articles by Max Goetschel

Max Goetschel

Carnegie Mellon University

Jon M. Peha

Carnegie Mellon University

Date Written: August 30, 2017

Abstract

Over the past several years there has been resistance from police officers towards implementing body-worn camera (BWC) technology. This paper assesses police perceptions towards BWCs in Pittsburgh and other cities to better characterize and explain such resistance, and also gain insight into the efficacy and potential benefits of BWCs from officers who have used the technology in their daily policing duties. Our surveys and interviews found that overall, Pittsburgh officers strongly believe BWCs can reduce citizen complaints and maintain police-community relations, but support for deploying BWCs throughout the city is low (31%). However, that support significantly increases among officers with hands-on BWC experience (57%). A comparison to previous police surveys found further evidence that BWC experience improves officer perception of the technology. In contrast, Pittsburgh officers who oppose city-wide adoption were concerned BWCs would erode trust between officers and their superiors, implying that police departments that can protect these internal police relationships might experience less resistance from police officers. These and other results suggest that changes in BWC technology, police policy and procedure, rollout, and police training could lead to better BWC programs.

Keywords: Body-Worn Camera(s), BWC, police, data, behavior, surveillance, emerging technology, perception

Suggested Citation

Goetschel, Max and Peha, Jon M., Police Perceptions of Body-Worn Cameras (August 30, 2017). TPRC 45: The 45th Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2944387 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2944387

Max Goetschel (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Jon M. Peha

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

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