California Agency Studies Benefits of On-Officer Video Cameras (4/5/13)
Friday, April 05, 2013 | Comments

The Rialto (Calif.) Police Department released the results of a year-long controlled, randomized study on the impact of on-officer video cameras. The full study, titled "The Rialto Police Departments Body-Worn Video Camera Experiment," began Feb. 13, 2012.

Officer-worn cameras reduced the rate of use-of-force incidents by 59 percent. Before the cameras, the rate of use of force incidents was 2.5 times higher than with cameras. Use of the cameras led to an 87.5 percent reduction in complaints.

The experimental procedure included random assignment of all police shifts to either experimental (with camera) or control (without camera) conditions. Shifts were randomly allocated to treatment and control conditions, using the Cambridge University Randomizer on a weekly basis.

To ensure security of all data gathered, officers' videos were automatically uploaded at the end of each shift, and the research team was granted full access to the data, encompassing more than 50,000 hours of police-public interactions.

"These results carry significant implications for the future of the law enforcement profession," said Chief Tony Farrar, the principle investigator who led the study as his graduate degree thesis at Cambridge University. "The use of body-worn video had a dramatic impact on reducing both the controversy associated with complaints and the risk of injuries associated with use-of-force incidents. The next phase of our study is to quantify and analyze the financial impact associated with these significant reductions in both legal and physical risks."

The department’s trial used a camera system from Taser International. At the conclusion of the experimental period, the Rialto Police Department implemented a three-year service plan with the vendor and integrated Taser’s video cameras into standard operations going forward.

The Rialto Police Department has 115 sworn officers and 42 non-sworn personnel who cover an area of more than 22 square miles and a population of 99,171.

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