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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Zehnder

New Research on Body-Worn Cameras and Race-Based Police Misconduct Complaints in Chicago PD

Updated: Apr 10

Interesting research from Professor Volkan Topalli and associates at Georgia State University. A summary article from Georgia State News Hub can be found here. The following is from the working paper:

"Police body-worn cameras (BWCs) have been the subject of much research on how the technology’s enhanced documentation of police/citizen interactions impact police behavior. Less attention has been paid to how BWC recordings affect the adjudication of citizen complaints against the police. We employ citizen complaint data from the Chicago Police Department and Civilian Office of Police Accountability filed between 2012-2020 to determine the extent to which BWC footage enhances the efficacy of evidence used to formulate a conclusion of responsibility, and whether bias against complainants based on race would subsequently be reduced. Accordingly, we exploit the staggered deployment of BWCs across 22 Chicago police districts over time to estimate the effect of BWCs on these outcomes. Our findings indicate that BWCs led to a significant decrease in the dismissal of investigations due to insufficient evidence ("not sustained") as well as a significant increase in disciplinary actions against police officers ("sustained" outcomes”) with sufficient evidence to sanction their misconduct. We further find that disparities in complaints across racial groups for the “unsustained” category fade away with the implementation of BWCs."

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I encourage people to read the actual study and not form an opinion based on the article itself. Unfortunately, the casual reader probably won't do that and possibly come away with the wrong conclusio

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