Research on Body-Worn Cameras and Law Enforcement
In a sample of police departments surveyed in 2013, approximately 75 percent of them reported that
they did not use body-worn cameras. The survey was funded by the Office of Community Oriented
Policing Services and conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).
PERF’s report about the survey notes a number of perceived benefits for using body-worn cameras,
including better evidence documentation and increased accountability and transparency. But the
report also notes many other factors that law enforcement executives must consider, such as
privacy issues, officer and community concerns, data retention and public disclosure policies, and
financial considerations. The costs of implementing body-worn cameras include not only the
cost of the cameras, but also of any ancillary equipment (e.g., tablets that let officers tag data
in the field), data storage and management, training, administration, and disclosure.
To date, little research is available to help law enforcement executives decide whether and how to
implement the use of body-worn cameras in their departments.
NIJ is currently funding two studies — a CNA Corporation study of the impact of body-worn cameras
in the Las Vegas Metro Police Department and a Los Angeles Police Foundation evaluation of
body-worn video technology in the Los Angeles Police Department.
Additionally, through the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC)
system, NIJ funded the development of a primer on body-worn cameras for law enforcement and
a market survey of camera systems.
Research on the Impact of Technology on Policing Strategies. In 2013, NIJ funded CNA
Corporation to examine the impact of body-worn cameras in the Las Vegas Metro Police Department.
Researchers will study the implementation of body-worn cameras in the department, including
adherence to department policy and the effect of sergeants on patrol officers’ use of body-worn cameras.
Researchers also will study the use of body-worn cameras by 400 officers in the field to learn about
the effect of body-worn cameras in police-citizen encounters, including measures of use of force.
Finally, the researchers will conduct a cost-benefit analysis to estimate the time officers spend in
court or on suspension as a result of negative interactions with citizens.
Testing and Evaluating Body-Worn Video Technology in the Los Angeles Police Department.
In 2014, NIJ funded the Los Angeles Police Foundation to conduct an evaluation of body-worn video
technology in the Los Angeles Police Department. Researchers will study how body-worn video
technology is used in the field and its impact on police-citizen behavior and on crime. The study
will address a number of questions that fall into five general categories:
- Using body-worn video technology
- Privacy concerns
- Police legitimacy and changes in police services
- Crime reduction
- Use of advanced analytics
Among the sources of data that researchers will use are information on citizen complaints, use
of force and crime. They also will conduct interviews and surveys with officers and interviews
Primer on Body-Worn Cameras for Law Enforcement
Developed by the NIJ-funded NLECTC Sensor, Surveillance and Biometric Technologies Center of
Excellence, A Primer on Body-Worn Cameras for Law Enforcement provides an introduction to
body-worn camera systems. The 2012 report discusses the functions and features of body-worn
camera systems and highlights issues and factors that law enforcement organizations should
consider before and during implementation.
Market Survey of Body-Worn Cameras for Criminal Justice
The NIJ-funded NLECTC Sensor, Surveillance and Biometric Technologies Center of Excellence
conducted a market survey on body-worn cameras for criminal justice. The survey, published
in 2014, aggregates and summarizes information on a number of makes and models of body-worn
cameras available today, including the approximate costs of each unit.
- National Body-Worn Camera Toolkit, Bureau of Justice Assistance, a comprehensive
- clearinghouse for criminal justice practitioners interested in planning and implementing a
- body-worn camera program in an effort to strengthen community trust and
- confidence in the justice system and improve officer and community safety.
- Police Officer Body-Worn Cameras: Assessing the Evidence (pdf, 60 pages)Exit Notice,
- Michael D. White, Office of Justice Programs Diagnostic Center, produced for the Office
- of Community Oriented Policing Services, July 2014.
- Implementing a Body-Worn Camera Program: Recommendations and Lessons Learned,
- Lindsay Miller and Jessica Toliver, Police Executive Research Forum, September 2014.