Department of Criminology to Study the Effectiveness of Body Cameras on Police Officers

On March 2014, Dr. Lorie Fridell, Dr. Wesley Jennings, and graduate student Mathew Lynch will commence a twelve month research project that will examine the perceptions of Orlando police officers toward body worn cameras and the effect of body worn cameras on officer (and citizen) behavior.

The researchers will study 100 police officers; 50 will be wearing cameras and the other 50 will not. The officers will be matched by similar elements of their work, such as geographical assignments, operational assignment (patrol, special unit), and the time of day of their shift. All participants will be volunteers and must commit to the study before finding out if they are in the camera (treatment group) or no-camera (control) group.

 “We are cognizant that infrequently officers who are assigned to the camera group or no camera group may for a number of reasons leave OPD or be re-assigned to a different shift or geographical region,” said Dr. Jennings, “In order to prepare for this we have a group of ‘wait-list’ subjects that can be randomly ‘introduced into’ the study when and if these types of situations occur.”

Surveys, focus groups and panel discussions will measure: attitudes towards camera use, impact on citizen complaints, behavior of police officers and demeanor of citizens. In order to measure attitude changes, four surveys will be administered over the year. The surveys will be administered online through Qualtrics Survey Program and will take about half an hour to complete.  

At the end of the 12 months, the researchers will look into the use of force incidents, internal and external complaints (number, nature, disposition, time to disposition), injuries to officers (from physical altercations), and injuries to citizens (from physical altercations, including fleeing) gathered from official agency records, and they will also examine officers’ perceptions of safety and body worn cameras via their survey responses.

“We hypothesize that the body camera group will have fewer use of force incidents, fewer external complaints, more internal complaints, and fewer injuries to self and citizens,” said Dr. Fridell.

The study also has the potential to expose any training deficiencies for the Orlando Police Department. Dr. Jennings said, “The use of cameras may also lead to better efficiency and expediency in the resolution of citizen complaints and increase the successful rate of prosecution as the ‘evidence’ is on-the-tape.”

The study is also a dissertation of doctoral student Mathew Lynch.


-Gema Mora