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Wearing body cameras increases assaults against officers and does not reduce police use of force: Results from a global multi-site experiment

July 2016

Renee O’Connell


Governments around the globe continue to struggle to balance the need to maintain order, trust in the police force, hold officers accountable, and minimize police brutality. Some nations have attempted to address this struggle by equipping police with body-worn videos. In theory, these BWV’s provide police with an immediate and greater sense of accountability, which in turn reduces the use of unnecessary force. Using trials taken from several different nations, this study finds that the use of BWV’s does not minimize the use of force by police and also increases the incidence of assault made against officers.

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Policy Implications

As local and national governments seek to reduce the use of unnecessary force by police officers, they must carefully consider the true benefits of investing significant funds in body worn videos. Additionally, this study was the first to date to analyze the effect of a BWV on the officer. The suggestion that the use of a BWV may actually jeopardize the officer’s safety raises concerns for governments struggling with the decision to invest in BWV’s. This study used data collected from around the world, and differences in definition of assault may have been the source of some error. Further trials are needed, but it important to consider than BWV’s may not be the ultimate solution for ending police brutality.

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