The usage and utility of body-worn camera footage in courts: A survey analysis of state prosecutors

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Despite substantial recent developments in body-worn camera (BWC) research, little is known about the effect of BWC footage on downstream criminal justice actors and agencies. Analyzing both quantitative and qualitative survey responses taken from state prosecutors in Miami-Dade County (FL) in 2019, this study provides one of the most detailed examinations of prosecutors' experiences with BWC footage to date. Using descriptive analyses, ordinary least squares regressions, and structural equation modeling, we examine how the operational challenges associated with BWC footage affect the degree to which prosecutors use the footage and perceive it to be useful. Our results suggest that poor footage quality and delayed video transfer may limit the utility of BWC footage—and in turn—that lower perceptions of utility may reduce the formal usage of BWC footage in court. These findings differ across case-processing stages, however, with transfer delay affecting the utility of BWC video for charging decisions and footage quality affecting the utility of BWC video across multiple case processing stages. Implications and policy recommendations based on these results are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)534-569
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Empirical Legal Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies published by Cornell Law School and Wiley Periodicals LLC.


  • body-worn cameras
  • criminal justice
  • police
  • prosecution
  • technology


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