Northeastern researchers have released a preliminary report on a Boston Police pilot of body cameras - and say they found a small, but noticeable decrease in problems in interactions between officers and the public:
The preliminary findings of the randomized controlled trial suggest that the placement of body worn cameras on Boston Police officers may generate small benefits to the civility of police-citizen civilian encounters. Relative to control officers, treatment officers [who wore cameras] received fewer citizen complaints and generated fewer use of force reports.
Police Commissioner William Evans said this is because Boston Police already has such a low number of issues involving the interaction of his officers and the general public.
The study involved two groups of officers: Roughly 140 officers in five police districts and members of the gang unit, who shared wearing 100 of the recording devices and a similar number of officers, with similar disciplinary records, who did not.
Final findings from the study, which Evans and Mayor Walsh could use to decide whether to equip all officers with cameras, could be out in June - researchers cautioned that this week's initial findings could change as they dig deeper into the data:
The final report will present completed analyses of the impact of body worn cameras on citizen complaints and officer use of force reports as well as analyses of impacts on police proactivity, lawfulness of police enforcement actions, and police-community relations.