A study on the effects of body-worn cameras on police use-of-force that was produced by Police Foundation Executive Fellow Tony Farrar, Chief of the Rialto (CA) Police Department, has been published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, a scientific publication. The article has received nationwide recognition as the only scientific study of how body-worn cameras affect police interaction with the public.
The journal article, written by Farrar and his fellow researchers Dr. Barak Ariel and Dr. Alex Sutherland of Cambridge University (UK), features the study that was first released by the Police Foundation under the title “Self-Awareness to Being Watched and Socially-Desirable Behavior: A Field Experiment on the Effects of Body-Worn Cameras on Police Use-of-Force.” The study, which has been widely cited by national media over the past year, gained new attention because of the scientific journal article.
The study was one of three international winners of the 2014 IACP/Motorola Solutions Webber Seavey Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement presented at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference in Orlando in October. The award recognizes law enforcement agencies that have developed innovative programs within their communities to address a specific need. The study also won the 2013 Award for Excellence in Evidence-Based Policing from the Society of Evidence-Based Policing at its 2013 conference at the University of Cambridge (UK).
In an article announcing the new Journal of Quantitative Criminology article, Cambridge University said the experiment “showed that evidence capture is just one output of body-worn video, and the technology is perhaps most effective at actually preventing escalation during police-public interactions: whether abusive behaviour towards police or unnecessary use-of-force by police.”
During the 12-month Rialto experiment, use-of-force by officers wearing cameras fell by 59 percent and complaints against officers dropped by 87 percent compared to the previous year’s totals, the article states.
The study prepared by Chief Farrar has been widely cited during the on-going debate about how to improve relations between police and the communities they serve in the wake of the shootings of unarmed men during encounters with police. President Obama urged police departments to consider the technology, and asked Congress to provide funding for 50,000 body-worn cameras nationwide.
Chief Farrar said he is pleased that his research has played a role in furthering the discussion on body-worn cameras.
“I am truly honored to be part of a research study that has had such a significant impact on the policing profession; not just locally, but across the United States and around the world,” Chief Farrar said.
Dr. Barak Ariel is the Jerry Lee Fellow in Experimental Policing at the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University. Dr. Alex Sutherland is a Research Associate at the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge. Chief Farrar attended the Police Executive Programme at Cambridge and received a Masters Degree in Criminology from the program in 2013.