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The importance of external stakeholders for police body-worn camera diffusion

Natalie Todak (Department of Criminal Justice, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA)
Janne E. Gaub (Department of Criminal Justice, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA)
Michael D. White (School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 19 June 2018

Issue publication date: 26 July 2018

Abstract

Purpose

The diffusion of innovations paradigm suggests that stakeholders’ acceptance of a police innovation shapes how it spreads and impacts the larger criminal justice system. A lack of support by external stakeholders for police body-worn cameras (BWCs) can short-circuit their intended benefits. The purpose of this paper is to examine the perceptions of BWCs among non-police stakeholders who are impacted by the technology as well as how BWCs influence their daily work processes.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors conducted interviews and focus groups (n=41) in two US cities where the police department implemented BWCs. The interviewees range from courtroom actors (e.g. judges, prosecutors) to those who work with police in the field (e.g. fire and mental health), city leaders, civilian oversight members, and victim advocates.

Findings

External stakeholders are highly supportive of the new technology. Within the diffusion of innovations framework, this support suggests that the adoption of BWCs will continue. However, the authors also found the decision to implement BWCs carries unique consequences for external stakeholders, implying that a comprehensive planning process that takes into account the views of all stakeholders is critical.

Originality/value

Despite the recent diffusion of BWCs in policing, this is the first study to examine the perceptions of external stakeholders. More broadly, few criminologists have applied the diffusion of innovations framework to understand how technologies and other changes emerge and take hold in the criminal justice system. This study sheds light on the spread of BWCs within this framework and offers insights on their continued impact and consequences.

Keywords

Citation

Todak, N., Gaub, J.E. and White, M.D. (2018), "The importance of external stakeholders for police body-worn camera diffusion", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 41 No. 4, pp. 448-464. https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-08-2017-0091

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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