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Criminal Justice


Jerry o P. Regier


Body worn cameras (BWCs) are a newer piece of equipment that has been issued to police officers in efforts to increase transparency and improve relations with the community. Researchers who have just recently begun studying the effects of BWCs have observed changes in behavior of officers who wear the equipment. Some of these changes potentially have an adverse effect on citizens and the officers who wear BWCs. Lipsky's street-level bureaucracy theory was utilized to examine police officer use of discretion when conducting field activities while wearing BWCs. The research question pertained to police officers' perceptions regarding changes in behavior while being video recorded on duty. This study used generic qualitative inquiry to understand five police officers' perceptions through individual semi structured interviews complemented by the responsive interview model. Themes that emerged consisted of implementation, personal harm, privacy, and behavior modification. Notable findings under the theme of implementation included lack of initial acceptance of the equipment followed by approval of the equipment after use; and that initial training of BWCs was deemed insufficient. In the personal harm theme, participants expressed concern over functionality of BWCs and that superiors possibly would use footage for punitive reasons. Minimal privacy issues for officers were discovered; however, use of BWCs in private residences was perceived by participants as a concern for citizens. The most significant behavior modification was increased professionalism. Implications for social change include improved officer and citizen safety and the delivery of more effective police services, improving relations with the community.

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