Profile image
By Reason Magazine (Reporter)
Contributor profile | More stories
Story Views

Last Hour:
Last 24 Hours:

Body-Worn Cop Cameras Reduce Citizen Complaints by 93 Percent

Friday, September 30, 2016 8:41
% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.

bodycamPolice and citizens tend to behave a lot better when they know that their actions are being recorded on video. This insight is bolstered by a fascinating new study, “Contagious Accountability” in the journal Criminal Justice and Behavior. Researchers at Cambridge University persuaded seven different police departments in the U.K. and the U.S. to randomly assign 2,000 officers to don body-worn cameras (BWC) that recorded for their entire shifts. The experiment took place over a year and then the researchers compared the number complaints against officers from the preceding with those lodged during the year that cameras were being worn. The researchers report, “Across the seven experimental sites, 1,539 complaints were lodged against police officers in the 12 months preceding the study, or 1.20 complaints per officer. The number of complaints lodged against the police then dropped in the posttreatment period to 113, or 0.08 complaints per officer. This marks an overall reduction of 93% in the incidence of complaints.”

One model considered for how the presence of cameras might change behavior:

BWC + verbal warning → officer’s starting point for the interaction is cooler + suspect’s demeanor “cooler” → officers less likely to react aggressively → fewer complaints than without BWCs.

Cameras evidently deter both frivolous complaints and excessive police agression. In addition, the researchers found that cameras actually changed the behavior of officers more than that of citizens during encounters. Recall that officers were randomly assigned cameras at every shift and still complaints against police dropped even when individual officers were not wearing them. As the lead researcher Barak Ariel suggested to the BBC, this occurred “because good practice and changes in policing culture were becoming embedded across each force as it adapted to the use of cameras – a phenomenon he described as “contagious accountability.”

While it is clear that all police should wear cameras, it is critical that departments adopt transparent and accountable policies with regard to when video should be released to the public and for how long video should be retained.


We encourage you to Share our Reports, Analyses, Breaking News and Videos. Simply Click your Favorite Social Media Button and Share.

Report abuse


Your Comments
Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

Top Stories
Recent Stories



Top Global


Top Alternative




Email this story
Email this story

If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.