Should law enforcement officers be equipped with body cameras?
Florida Atlantic University conducted a study on public perception of body-worn cameras.
FAU researchers, along with the University of West Florida, asked residents in Palm Beach and Escambia counties about their views of body cameras worn by law enforcement.
87 percent of those who were surveyed agreed body cameras would improve law enforcement's behavior.
70 percent agreed that the cameras would also improve the behavior of citizens when they encounter law enforcement.
A surprising find for researchers though was that those with negative views of law enforcement weren't any more supportive of body cameras.
A majority of those surveyed in Palm Beach County overwhelming believed that body cameras would increase safety for both law enforcement and residents. It would also improve both parties’ behavior and increase police legitimacy.
But the report also found:
West Palm Beach residents reported less favorable perceptions on the fairness, courteousness and honesty of local police. They also were more likely to agree that police do not deal with important problems well (including city crime problems). West Palm Beach residents also were more likely to agree that police often stop people on the street without sufficient reason and were less likely to agree that local police only use the amount of force necessary to accomplish tasks.
“These findings are timely as West Palm Beach police and other police departments across the country seek to increase efficiency and improve officers’ interactions with the public using body-worn cameras,” according to a statement from Vaughn J. Crichlow, Ph.D., assistant professor in FAU’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.
The study will be published in the journal Criminal Justice and Behavior later this year.