The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) conducted a project that examined the costs and benefits of body-worn cameras (BWC). This study ultimately aides in determining if the use of BWCs reduces the amount of money departments pay out to settle civil suits, and whether any such savings offset the cost of fielding and maintaining cameras. Police chiefs, city managers, and municipal councils, provided with information from the study, have the materials needed to conduct an intelligent assessment of the cost of implementing a wide-scale BWC program.
In addressing the question of whether or not the reductions paid out in settlements of civil suits against the police significantly offset the initial and back-end costs of BWCs, the project plans to output a report within nine months of the start of project based on interim findings. The best way to gather these findings includes comparing money paid out in lawsuit settlements pre- and post-implementation of BWCs. The utilization of a classic pretest-posttest control group design will control for potential effects of time and initial differences between treatment groups. If this cost – benefit analysis produces data that indicates that BWCs can fully or partially pay for themselves, then we would expect municipal governments to become more willing to invest in this potentially transformative technology to be better able to forecast the costs of investment.
A final report was published in April of 2018.
The BWC costs and benefits project was funded by the Arnold Foundation.
Chief Social Scientist
National Police Foundation
Police Executive Research Form, body worn camera, costs, benefits