The impacts of body-worn cameras in policing: A systematic review
Cynthia Lum, Christopher S. Koper, David Wilson, Lorraine Mazerolle, Elizabeth Eggins, Angela Higginson, Megan Stoltz and Xiaoyun Wu
Body-worn cameras (BWCs) are one of the most rapidly diffusing technologies in policing today, costing agencies and their municipalities millions of dollars. Driven by operational imperatives to reduce assaults by and on police, reduce complaints, enhance legitimacy and improve investigative outcomes, BWCs have been adopted rapidly by police forces in the USA, the UK, and other nations. This roll out has been subject to a substantial program of experimental research and narrative reviews, but, as yet, no systematic review to collectively analyse the available data and assist policy makers and practitioners understand the potentially varied and complex effects of this technology.
Regardless of the evidence-base, BWCs have already rapidly diffused into law enforcement and many agencies will continue to adopt them. Policy implications from available evidence are not clear cut, but they suggest that BWCs will not be an easy panacea for improving police performance, accountability, and relationships with citizens (Lum et al. 2018). The question of the effectiveness of BWCs urgently requires a more thorough exploration and systematic review to help practitioners understand the most and least effective ways to deploy BWCs.
This review will synthesize a variety of BWC studies. These studies focus on various outcomes, as described by Lum et al. 2018, including, where available: the impact of BWCs on officer behaviour; officer attitudes about BWCs; the impact of BWCs on citizen behaviour; citizen and community attitudes about BWCs; the impact of BWCs on criminal investigations; and the impact of BWCs on the management of law enforcement organizations.
A comprehensive narrative review of BWC research through March of 2018 was conducted by Lum et al. (2018). Other earlier narrative reviews based on smaller subsets of studies were conducted by White (2014); Lum et al. (2015); and Maskaly et al. (2017). None of these were systematic Campbell reviews.
The intervention examined in this systematic review is the use of BWCs in public police agencies and the impacts of that use on a variety of outcomes as aforementioned. The comparison condition in evaluation studies is officers who are not wearing or given BWCs.
We are interested in the impact of BWCs on police officers, police organizations (including police officer shifts and different organizational units), citizens exposed/not exposed to BWCs, and communities.
This systematic review will include studies of BWCs that examine the impact of BWCs on (1) officer behaviours; (2) officer attitudes about BWCs; (3) citizen behaviours; (4) citizen and community attitudes about BWCs; (5) criminal investigations; and (6) the management of law enforcement organizations.
Given the six outcome measure of interest as described above, we will include all quasi-experimental and experimental studies related to these outcomes as well as rigorous survey analyses related to #2 and #4, above.