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Book part
Publication date: 30 April 2021

Erick Laming and Christopher J. Schneider

Body-worn cameras (BWCs) are quickly becoming standardized police equipment. Axon Enterprise, a United States company based in Scottsdale, Arizona, is currently the…

Abstract

Body-worn cameras (BWCs) are quickly becoming standardized police equipment. Axon Enterprise, a United States company based in Scottsdale, Arizona, is currently the worldwide purveyor of BWCs having near-complete control over the police body camera market. In 2012, the company launched their Axon Flex body camera alongside claims about the efficacy of these devices. While the research is expanding, scholarship has yet to explore the role that stakeholders like Axon may play in the implementation of body cameras across police services. This empirical chapter examines claims made by Axon in media in relation to the efficacy of their body cameras over a six-year period (2012–2018). Three themes relative to our analysis of Axon claims emerged: officer and community safety; cost and officer efficiency; and accountability and transparency. A basic finding that cut across all three themes is that most of Axon's claims appear to be shaped by beliefs and assumptions. We also found that Axon's claims were mostly predicated on the market (i.e., financial considerations), rather than say scientifically or legally grounded. Some suggestions for future research are noted.

Details

Radical Interactionism and Critiques of Contemporary Culture
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83982-029-8

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 23 April 2020

Paige S. Thompson, Bryce E. Peterson and Daniel S. Lawrence

This paper explores community members' perceptions of the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD)'s body-worn camera (BWC) program, examining knowledge and support of the…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper explores community members' perceptions of the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD)'s body-worn camera (BWC) program, examining knowledge and support of the program and its impact on views of procedural justice and legitimacy.

Design/methodology/approach

A two-wave, online survey was administered to Milwaukee-area residents in the fall of 2017 and summer of 2018, yielding 1,527 respondents. Multivariate regression analyses focus on overall relationships between sociodemographic characteristics, community member knowledge of the program, procedural justice and legitimacy and support for BWCs.

Findings

Community members are supportive of BWCs and view officers as procedurally just and legitimate; however, perceptions were significantly lower among Black respondents. Respondents with knowledge of the BWC program were more likely to view officers as procedurally just, but program knowledge did not increase support for it.

Research limitations/implications

Police agencies may benefit from improving community awareness of their BWC program as knowledge of the program is positively linked to the views of departmental procedural justice and legitimacy. However, education efforts alone are not sufficient in improving police–community relations. Future research should examine how policing stakeholders can engage the community to build views of legitimacy associated with BWC policies.

Originality/value

Findings provide insight into community member perceptions of a large BWC program in a major US city. Results demonstrate the relationship between knowledge of a department's BWC program and views of procedural justice and legitimacy and support for BWCs.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 43 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 11 October 2018

Baris Cayli, Charlotte Hargreaves and Philip Hodgson

This study advances our knowledge about the effectiveness of body-worn cameras (BWCs) through exploring the perceptions of English police officers in three principal…

Abstract

Purpose

This study advances our knowledge about the effectiveness of body-worn cameras (BWCs) through exploring the perceptions of English police officers in three principal areas: positive perceptions, negative perceptions and evidence-focussed perceptions. In doing so, the purpose of this paper is to shed new light on the democratising process in the habitus of policing.

Design/methodology/approach

This study presents a novel data set that evaluates the introduction of BWC to police officers in the East Midlands area of England. The authors conducted an extensive survey to explore the perceptions of 162 police officers about the BWCs. The authors examined the empirical data using Stata within the theoretical framework of Pierre Bourdieu concerning the concept of habitus.

Findings

The authors have found that most police officers perceive that BWCs have a positive impact on policing practices and evidence collection. The positive perceptions and evidence-focussed perceptions increase the importance of BWCs; however, there are also negative perceptions regarding effective policing, administrative functionality and establishing a better relationship with the community. The authors argued that all three areas: positive perceptions, negative perceptions and evidence-focussed perceptions play a stimulating role to democratise the habitus of policing. On the other hand, BWCs do not guarantee the consolidation of democratic principles in the habitus of policing because of the authority of police to decide when, where and how to use BWCs.

Research limitations/implications

The research is limited to the perceptions of 162 police officers in East Midlands before they actually started using it. A future study to analyse their real-life experiences after using the BWCs may help us to compare their perceptions before using it with real-life experiences after BWCs are used. In addition, a comparative approach between countries in future research will help to explain the role of technological applications in different social geographies and legal systems.

Originality/value

This study offers new insights about the perceptions of police on BWCs before they started using them. The authors introduce the democratic habitus of policing as an innovative concept and explored power dynamics in the habitus of policing through BWCs. The findings provide a strong empirical contribution to determine the conditions of democratic habitus of policing. In doing so, this study develops our theoretical knowledge about the habitus concept in sociology by employing BWCs in policing activities.

Article
Publication date: 2 July 2018

Jessica Huff, Charles M. Katz and Vincent J. Webb

Body-worn cameras (BWCs) have been adopted in police agencies across the USA in efforts to increase police transparency and accountability. This widespread implementation…

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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.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 41 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 19 June 2018

Natalie Todak, Janne E. Gaub and Michael D. White

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…

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.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 41 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 30 June 2020

Thomas J. Mrozla and Julia Marin Hellwege

Gender representation in policing is an important but understudied topic. This study aimed to evaluate the relationship between female representation in police departments…

Abstract

Purpose

Gender representation in policing is an important but understudied topic. This study aimed to evaluate the relationship between female representation in police departments and the acquisition of body-worn cameras (BWCs). Further, it examined how female representation influenced the reasons for acquiring BWCs.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were gathered from the 2013 Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) survey and the 2016 Body-Worn Camera Supplement to the LEMAS.

Findings

Controlling for relevant organizational characteristics, findings highlight the importance of female representation in terms of the acquisition of BWCs. In addition, findings point to the effect that increased female representation has on the reasons for acquiring BWCs. Namely, agencies with a greater percentage of female patrol officers were more likely to acquire body cameras for reasons related to improving community relations, professionalism, training, reducing use of force and strengthening leadership.

Practical implications

This paper provides evidence of the positive influence of female representation in policing.

Originality/value

This paper fulfills the identified need to examine the influence of gender representation in police organizations. In addition, it advances the direction of recent research to merge large data sets in order to provide a unique look at the research questions.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 43 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 15 August 2016

William V. Pelfrey Jr and Steven Keener

The importance of body-worn cameras (BWC) in policing cannot be overstated. This is not a hyperbolic statement – use of force incidents in Ferguson and Baltimore, the…

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Abstract

Purpose

The importance of body-worn cameras (BWC) in policing cannot be overstated. This is not a hyperbolic statement – use of force incidents in Ferguson and Baltimore, the ensuing riots, coupled with critical long term implications for police community relations demonstrate the need for BWC data. Few studies have been published on the use of BWCs and little is known about officer perceptions, administrator decision making, and agency use of BWC data. No published studies incorporate qualitative data, which lends important context and depth, in the interpretation of officer survey data. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The current study presents a mixed-method study of a large university police agency prior to full implementation of BWC. A survey of patrol officers and supervisors, using a census approach with near full participation, coupled with focus group interviews, produced data on perceptions, concerns, and expectations of full BWC implementation.

Findings

Findings point to officer concerns regarding the utilization of BWC data and administrative expectations regarding complaint reduction and officer assessment.

Originality/value

Important implications regarding training and policy are presented. BWC data represent an important tool for agency decision makers but have numerous potential negative uses. Understanding officer concerns juxtaposed with administrator expectations, through both survey and qualitative data, advance the knowledge on BWC.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 39 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 7 April 2020

Scott W. Phillips, Dae-Young Kim and Joseph Gramaglia

The past five years have seen a growth in studies of police body-worn cameras (BWCs). A large share of the research focused on individual officer attitudes toward these…

Abstract

Purpose

The past five years have seen a growth in studies of police body-worn cameras (BWCs). A large share of the research focused on individual officer attitudes toward these new law enforcement tools. The scholarship, however, focused almost exclusively on their positive and negative perceptions of body cameras or correlations between those attitudes and general officer characteristics. This study examined whether the influence of negative or “concerning” policing attitudes toward body cameras is mediated by other variables, such as officer outlooks toward law enforcement, officers' perceptions of citizen cooperation or their opinions of the public.

Design/methodology/approach

An online survey was distributed to a convenience sample of police offices from two Northeastern police agencies.

Findings

Findings indicate that the relationship between experience and concerning perceptions of body cameras is mediated by distrust in citizens and perceived civilian cooperation. Further, an office's outlooks regarding aggressive law enforcement tactics do not have a direct effect on concerning perceptions of body cameras, nor do they serve as a mediator between years of experience and concerning perceptions of body cameras.

Originality/value

Findings uncover the nuance and complexity of studying and understanding police officer outlooks and perceptions of BWCs. Future experimental designs should include general outlook measures.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 43 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 20 November 2017

Michael D. White, Natalie Todak and Janne E. Gaub

The purpose of this paper is to assess perceptions of body-worn cameras (BWCs) among citizens who had BWC-recorded police encounters, and to explore the potential for a…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to assess perceptions of body-worn cameras (BWCs) among citizens who had BWC-recorded police encounters, and to explore the potential for a civilizing effect on citizen behavior.

Design/methodology/approach

From June to November 2015, the authors conducted telephone interviews with 249 citizens in Spokane (WA) who had a recent BWC-recorded police encounter.

Findings

Respondents were satisfied with how they were treated during the police encounter and, overall, had positive attitudes about BWCs. However, only 28 percent of respondents were actually aware of the BWC during their own encounter. The authors also found little evidence of a civilizing effect but did document a significant, positive connection between awareness of the BWC and enhanced perceptions of procedural justice.

Research limitations/implications

Authors only interviewed citizens who had encounters with officers wearing BWCs. However, variation in BWC awareness among citizens allowed the authors to construct a proxy “non-BWC condition” for comparison.

Practical implications

The pre-conditions necessary to produce a civilizing effect among citizens are complex and difficult to achieve. The intriguing relationship between BWC awareness and procedural justice suggests the technology may have the potential to improve police legitimacy.

Originality/value

The study is among the first to explore attitudes about BWCs among those who have their police encounters recorded, and results demonstrate high levels of support among this population. Findings bode well for continued adoption of BWCs in policing.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 40 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 16 March 2020

Jordan C. Pickering

Throughout the last decade, a number of empirical studies have assessed the effectiveness of body-worn cameras (BWCs) among law enforcement agencies across the United…

Abstract

Purpose

Throughout the last decade, a number of empirical studies have assessed the effectiveness of body-worn cameras (BWCs) among law enforcement agencies across the United States. The purpose of this paper is to examine officers' perceptions regarding the impact this technology has had on police-community relations, as well as the working relationship between police and other actors in the criminal justice system (e.g. prosecutors, jurors).

Design/methodology/approach

The author conducted focus groups with officers (n = 89) from two local law enforcement agencies in California that had adopted BWCs in recent years. Participating officers discussed advantages and disadvantages they associated with BWCs, as well as how BWCs have impacted their relationship with the public and justice system personnel.

Findings

Officers recognized advantages to using BWCs, including the potential for positive changes in police behavior and the ability to protect officers against false citizen complaints. Officers also identified a number of disadvantages (or consequences) they associate with BWCs, such as the depreciation of credibility behind an officer's word and the impact of video footage on prosecutorial decision-making.

Originality/value

Prior studies have gathered officers' perceptions regarding BWCs, but very few have assessed whether and how the use of this technology by law enforcement influences other actors within the criminal justice system. The findings from this study may prompt further empirical consideration regarding BWCs, especially with regard to whether police use of this technology significantly impacts citizens' trust in the police and how their use may impact prosecutorial and juror decision-making.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 43 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

Keywords

1 – 10 of 108