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How Body Camera Solutions Are Improving Policing

08-09-2015

Unfortunately a series of incidents in the past year have resulted in a lack of trust by the public in police officers and vice versa too, and have highlighted the need, now more than ever for police body cameras to become a part of everyday life. The use of cameras improves the perception of officers to the public and increases public reassurance by offering transparency and accountability.

Body cameras have been a very hot topic in the United States ever since President Obama announced there would be funding to provide departments with the technology following the Ferguson incident back in 2014. However, even before then departments around the states and around the world were using the cameras to test for themselves the benefits this type of solution can provide.

Body-worn cameras are small and rugged cameras typically attached to a policeman’s uniform which can capture video and audio recordings of activities and incidents. As previously mentioned body cameras have proven to be useful in improving transparency and accountability, in addition to documenting compelling evidence, preventing and resolving complaints brought by members of the public and improving performance.

A study on the use of body cameras by the Rialto Police Department in California carried out in 2013 revealed that the department saw as much as a 90% reduction in complaints against officers. When the public knows they’re being recorded or have been recorded, generally false allegations are immediately negated and the overall conduct between the two parties involved are improved. The need to complain is reduced and in turn also increases officer confidence, efficiency and reduces costs. The public awareness of being recorded and irrefutable evidence regarding their case has also been be proven to result in early guilty pleas. The Rialto study also showed a 50% decrease in use of force incidents as a result of body cameras having an impact on the officer’s behavior as well as the publics. 

A separate study carried out in 2015 in England on Operation Hyperion using Reveal body cameras revealed outcomes including a 7.8% reduction in crime and overwhelming positive public attitude and officer uptake (84-96%). Features such as a front facing screen make the camera obvious to the public which has an immediate impact by demonstrating that actions are being recorded which reduces aggression resulting in fewer assaults increasing officer safety and confidence, and reduces costs.

The outcomes and benefits illustrate how a solution such as body cameras can be a powerful tool in improving policing in the 21st century by transforming the jobs of frontline workers and offering transparency and accountability.

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