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Understanding police officer resistance to body-worn cameras

Jessica Huff (Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona, USA)
Charles M. Katz (Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona, USA)
Vincent J. Webb (Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 2 July 2018

Issue publication date: 26 July 2018

1655

Abstract

Purpose

Body-worn cameras (BWCs) have been adopted in police agencies across the USA in efforts to increase police transparency and accountability. This widespread implementation has occurred despite some notable resistance to BWCs from police officers in some jurisdictions. This resistance poses a threat to the appropriate implementation of this technology and adherence to BWC policies. The purpose of this paper is to examine factors that could explain variation in officer receptivity to BWCs.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors assess differences between officers who volunteered to wear a BWC and officers who resisted wearing a BWC as part of a larger randomized controlled trial of BWCs in the Phoenix Police Department. The authors specifically examine whether officer educational attainment, prior use of a BWC, attitudes toward BWCs, perceptions of organizational justice, support for procedural justice, noble cause beliefs, and official measures of officer activity predict receptivity to BWCs among 125 officers using binary logistic regression.

Findings

The findings indicate limited differences between BWC volunteers and resistors. Volunteers did have higher levels of educational attainment and were more likely to agree that BWCs improve citizen behaviors, relative to their resistant counterparts. Interestingly, there were no differences in perceptions of organizational justice, self-initiated activities, use of force, or citizen complaints between these groups.

Originality/value

Though a growing body of research has examined the impact of BWCs on officer use of force and citizen complaints, less research has examined officer attitudes toward the adoption of this technology. Extant research in this area largely focusses on general perceptions of BWCs, as opposed to officer characteristics that could predict receptivity to BWCs. This paper addresses this limitation in the research.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This document was made possible through the support of the Bureau of Justice Assistance Smart Policing Initiative Grant Program under Award No. 2015-WY-BX-0004. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Arizona State University or the Phoenix Police Department. The authors would like to acknowledge support from Executive Assistant Chief Michael Kurtenbach and Sergeant Kevin Johnson for spearheading efforts on behalf of the Phoenix Police Department. The authors would also like to thank Rene Brugman and Karen Kontak from the Phoenix Police Department Crime Analysis and Research Unit.

Citation

Huff, J., Katz, C.M. and Webb, V.J. (2018), "Understanding police officer resistance to body-worn cameras", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 41 No. 4, pp. 482-495. https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-03-2018-0038

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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