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Police Officer Body-Worn Cameras: Assessing the Evidence

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2014
60 pages

This is a literature review of the current evidence on the challenges and benefits of body-worn video camera technology for law enforcement officers.


Claims for the benefits of body-worn cameras are examined based on available research and conventional wisdom. Benefit claims are that body-worn cameras increase transparency in police encounters and victim views of police legitimacy; deter police wearers of the cameras from abusive behavior and citizens from resisting police initiatives; have evidentiary benefits to support arrests and prosecution; and provide opportunities for police training. There is little reliable research to support these claims, other than that which has shown body-cameras reduce untruthful complaints against police and can be a useful training tool. Some concerns and problems with police body cameras include citizen and police officer privacy concerns, officer safety and health concerns, investments in training and policy development, and the significant resource investment. The report recommends that at this stage, agencies should proceed cautiously in considering all the issues mentioned in this report before investing in the cameras. Also, agencies that use the cameras should collaborate with researchers in designing rigorous implementation and impact evaluations of the technology and its implementation. Independent research on body-worn camera technology is urgently needed, since most of the claims remain untested. The report concludes that research shows great promise for use of body-worn cameras as a training tool. 2 tables, references, and appended list of useful guides to body-worn camera technology and a policy template for body-worn camera policy

Date Published: August 1, 2014