Seeing is believing: the impact of body-worn cameras on court outcomes, a cluster-randomized controlled trial in Miami Beach

Kevin Petersen, Alejandro Mouro, Donald Papy, Noel Castillo, Barak Ariel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: To assess the effects of BWCs on prosecutorial and court-related charge outcomes across multiple crime types, including domestic violence charges, crimes committed against police officers, and drug/alcohol charges. Methods: A cluster-randomized controlled trial with 22 spatiotemporal police units assigned to BWCs and 17 assigned to control conditions. Data from the State Attorney’s Office were used to track convictions, adjudication withheld dispositions, and declined prosecutions for both experimental and control charges. A series of multilevel logistic and negative binomial regression models were used to estimate the effect of BWC footage on charge outcomes. Outcomes: BWCs led to a significantly higher proportion of crimes against police officers resulting in convictions or adjudication withheld outcomes, and a significantly higher proportion of domestic violence charges resulting in convictions alone, compared to control charges. However, after the clustering effect was taken into account, only the effect of BWCs on crimes against police officers remained statistically significant. Conclusion: These early results suggest that BWCs have significant evidentiary value that varies by crime type. BWCs may be best suited to capture evidence of crimes committed against police officers and potentially in domestic violence offenses as well.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)191-211
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Experimental Criminology
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Smart Policing Initiative program under Grant #2015-WY-BX-002.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

Keywords

  • Adjudication withheld
  • Body-worn camera
  • Conviction
  • Criminal justice
  • Police
  • Prosecution

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