BODY-WORN CAMERAS AS A POTENTIAL SOURCE OF DEPOLICING: TESTING FOR CAMERA-INDUCED PASSIVITY

Academic Article

Abstract

  • © 2018 American Society of Criminology Contentious debate is currently taking place regarding the extent to which public scrutiny of the police post-Ferguson has led to depolicing or to a decrease in proactive police work. Advocates of the “Ferguson effect” claim the decline in proactive policing increased violent crime and assaults on the police. Although police body-worn cameras (BWCs) are touted as a police reform that can generate numerous benefits, they also represent a form of internal and public surveillance on the police. The surveillance aspect of BWCs suggests that BWCs may generate depolicing through camera-induced passivity. We test this question with data from a randomized controlled trial of BWCs in Spokane (WA) by assessing the impact of BWCs on four measures: officer-initiated calls, arrests, response time, and time on scene. We employ hierarchical linear and cross-classified models to test for between- and within-group differences in outcomes before and after the randomized BWC rollout. Our results demonstrate no evidence of statistically significant camera-induced passivity across any of the four outcomes. In fact, self-initiated calls increased for officers assigned to treatment during the RCT. We discuss the theoretical and policy implications of the findings for the ongoing dialogue in policing.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Criminology  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 833143
  • Author List

  • Wallace D; White MD; Gaub JE; Todak N
  • Start Page

  • 481
  • End Page

  • 509
  • Volume

  • 56
  • Issue

  • 3