The researchers conclude that the consistent use of body-mounted cameras has a dramatic positive impact on people's behavior and on police officers' compliance with correct procedures. In effect, bodycams make cooler heads prevail.
Police officer with body-mounted camera--Credit Ryan Johnson
"Cooling down potentially volatile police-public interactions to the point where official grievances against the police virtually vanished may well lead to the conclusion that the use of body-worn cameras represents a turning point in policing," says Barak Ariel, a criminologist at Cambridge University, in the U.K., and lead author of the study, which appears in the journal Criminal Justice and Behaviour.
With the current challenge to police credibility due to a seemingly endless stream of officer-involved shootings, the resistance of some police officers to the use of bodycams, and many states restricting access to videos from police encounters, this research--one of the largest randomized and controlled experiments in the history of criminology--deserves to be taken seriously by police departments across the U.S. Video footage may show some officers acting badly, but overall it appears to protect the police and the public.