The Houston-based Laura and John Arnold Foundation has announced grants totaling $1.6 million for research on police body cameras.
Recent controversies surrounding the use of force by uniformed police officers in Missouri, New York State, Ohio, and elsewhere have generated interest in body-worn cameras (BWCs), but the technology is relatively new and little research is available to indicate what impact they would have, or when and how they might be most effective. The Arnold-funded studies aim to determine the impact of such cameras on public safety, policing strategies, and community perceptions of law enforcement. Researchers will be expected to publish reports and articles about their findings and will deliver presentations at various conferences.
Grant recipients include Michael White of Arizona State University, who will conduct a year-long study involving the police departments in Spokane, Washington, and Tempe, Arizona, to assess the effectiveness and police and community perceptions of body-worn cameras; Tom Wilson and Sean Goodison of the Police Executive Research Forum, who will conduct an eighteen-month study with the police department in Arlington, Texas, to gauge community reactions to interactions with police using body cameras; and Nancy La Vigne and Daniel Lawrence of the Urban Institute, who will work with the departments Anaheim, California, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to determine the optimal operational uses of body-worn cameras during interactions with people in the community. Wilson was awarded an additional grant for a nationwide study that will evaluate the cost-effectiveness of body cameras in relation to other alternatives for settling disputes between police officers and defendants.
"A growing number of agencies are using body-worn cameras in an effort to reduce violence, enhance police training, strengthen community relations, and aid in the prosecution of crimes," said LJAF vice president of criminal justice Anne Milgram. "This research will help to answer critical questions and identify best practices for the use of the technology."