Body Worn Video Steering Group
Dr Howard Henderson, and Dr Michael O. Adams of the Texas Southern University, have recently written an article with a call for further study to be conducted on body worn video cameras before full implementation after trial phases.
In the article it states, “The tragic deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, have sparked a national debate about the relationship of police and average citizens.”
“While many have argued for policy solutions centring on grand jury reform – some have argued that transparency in the form of body cameras may change or alter behaviour. While there may be merit to this approach, we would argue that police cameras need much more study before a wide implementation.”
This is something the widely regarded Rialto study aims to do, currently being replicated across the USA, and rest of the world, to test the merits of the initial study which concluded recently with highly positive results.
“Given the crisis before us, regarding the perceived illegitimacy of police actions in the community, it is important that the knowledge of the systematic response (i.e. body-cameras) be premised on sound and unbiased research. The key question that needs to be answered is whether body cameras will actually work?”
Claiming a “major lack” of analysis on body worn video cameras, they write “there have only been five examinations to date,” yet there are at least 13 currently available online.
As with others involved in the body worn video debate, questions that have surfaced in recent months are reiterated:
“What is the impact of police body cameras on citizen privacy rights?” and, “what training changes need to be made to transform the existing police paradigm?”
“As a result of the sparse empirical examinations, coupled with the demand from the citizenry and law enforcement community, we contend that a cautionary approach needs to be taken.”
“Agencies who have adopted or seeking to begin the use of police body cameras should be required to have their implementation evaluated by qualified and objective/independent academic institutions.”
“Those departments that choose to do so should be nationally recognized as model departments.”
“In the aftermath of the tragedies that have led to this call – it is critical to make sure that the policies that we implement solve the problem. To do that will require a reasoned and measured approach.”
Essentially, the article is calling for LEO’s not to rush into implementing full-scale body worn video camera programs, without first having assessed their needs and structure to properly inform their use of the technology for best practice and maximum efficiency.