Police uniform with body camera. Photo by Jobs for Felons via Flickr
Tampa police officers who wear body cameras are less likely to use force than their counterparts who do not wear them, a University of South Florida study suggests. Results of the two-year study that examined the effect of the cameras on police behavior were released yesterday, a day before the Tampa City Council is scheduled to discuss the department’s use of them, the Tampa Bay Times reports. The Tampa Police Department outfitted 60 of its patrol officers with the devices early last year. The study compared them with another group of 60 who did not wear cameras.
The frequency with which officers who wore cameras used force decreased by 8.4 percent in the year after the cameras were introduced. At the same time, officers who did not wear the cameras showed a 3.4 percent increase in use of force incidents.”
“Ultimately, the results from this study contribute to the growing body of evidence in support of the utility of body-worn cameras to reduce police response-to-resistance,” the study’s authors wrote. The reduction among the 60 officers who wore cameras amounts to about 20 fewer incidents of physical force per year. While the study suggests body cameras may help reduce bad encounters between police and citizens, it cautions that cameras alone are just one piece of the puzzle. It notes that community policing strategies and better officer training are also essential to preventing such encounters. The authors were criminologists Wesley Jennings and Lorie Fridell, and Mathew Lynch of the Urban Institute.