Using Research to Support Body-Worn Camera Efficacy
I am a huge proponent of Evidence-Based Policing and using research to support policing initiatives such as body-worn cameras(BWC). I am not a trained researcher but I have been exposed to enough studies to see their value to the police profession. I was involved, as the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department BWC Program Manager in 2014-15, in the largest randomized controlled trial study of its time conducted by CNA for the National Institute of Justice on the efficacy of the cameras. That was a landmark study.
The study outlined in the Newtown Bee, the newspaper for Newtown, Connecticut, on October 8th entitled "Body Camera Study Shows Newtown Police Doing ‘Fantastic Job’ " seems to have some significant flaws if the paper has reported correctly. Using one month's data, analyzed by two student interns, on measures of voice, transparency, impartiality, escalation, and satisfaction, seem extremely subjective. The study concluded that "the officers received “overwhelmingly positive scores” and were doing a 'fantastic job'." While I applaud the participation of the Newtown Police Department in the study, I agree with the lead researcher, Dr. James McCabe, a professor at Sacred Heart University, that he conduct a second study while revising his methodology. “I said we have to do this again, it’s almost too good,” said McCabe. “I guess it’s a good problem to have.” How's that old saying go?
Academic research can be an extremely effective tool for police agencies, and the communities they serve, if done correctly. In the case of Newtown, I hope a second study will be validation that the results of the first study were correct.