From the PATF Report:
Body cameras are a promising technological tool to protect both the public from police misconduct and police officers from false allegations of misconduct. They promote accountability and transparency. The presence of body cameras can also de-escalate encounters, resulting in improved behavior among both police officers and the public. The commander in charge of CPD’s body camera pilot program, Marc Buslik, recently explained this phenomenon: “When they know they are being recorded, both sides, everything becomes less intense”; “[t]he camera brings everything down on both sides. Officers noticed right away.”422
CPD is already embracing the use of body cameras. In January 2015, CPD initiated a body camera pilot program.423 The program initially involved 30 body cameras on officers working the 2:00 p.m. to midnight shift in the Shakespeare District (14th). Though the sample size is small, initial results were promising. Since the program was launched, complaints filed against officers for that district/watch fell by 26%, and excessive force complaints fell to zero in 2015 compared with seven in 2014.424 In 2016, CPD is expanding the pilot program to all three watches in six additional police districts—Wentworth (2nd), South Chicago (4th), Gresham (6th), Deering (9th), Ogden (10th), and Austin (15th).425
Police departments nationwide are increasingly using body cameras. As of early 2015, about 25% of the nation’s 17,000 police agencies were using them in whole or in part, with 80% evaluating the technology.426 In Los Angeles, the LAPD is outfitting every officer with body cameras.427 While empirical data is still trickling in, several studies have documented substantial decreases in citizen complaints, use of force, and assaults on officers after body cameras were distributed.428 There is some debate about whether these declines are attributable to improved officer behavior, improved citizen behavior, or citizens being less likely to file frivolous complaints (or some mix). Regardless, these are all positive developments
422 Paul Biasco, How Chicago Police Hope Body Cameras Will Restore The Public’s Trust, dnainfo.com (Jan. 7, 2016), available at https://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20160107/logan-square/how-chicago-police-hope-body-cameras-will-restore-publics-trust.
423 CPD, Body Worn Camera Pilot Program – Phase 1, Department Notice D15-01 (Jan. 1, 2016).
425 CPD, Office of News Affairs, Mayor Emanuel and Police Superintendent Escalante Announce Districts for Body-Worn Camera Expansion (Dec. 23, 2015), available at http://4abpn833c0nr1zvwp7447f2b.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wpcontent/uploads/2015/12/23Dec15-Release-Body-Worn-Camera-Expansion.pdf.
426 Jay Stanley, Police Body-Mounted Cameras: With Right Policies in Place, A Win For All, ACLU (Mar. 2015), available at https://www.aclu.org/police-body-mounted-cameras-right-policies-place-win-all.
427 Kate Mather, A Fight Over Access to Video from LAPD Body Cameras is Shaping Up, Los Angeles Times (Feb. 5, 2015), available at http://www.latimes.com/local/crime/la-me-lapd-cameras-20150205-story.html.
428 Michael D. White, Police Officer Body-Worn Cameras, Washington D.C.: Office of Community-Orientated Policing Services (2014), available at https://www.ojpdiagnosticcenter.org/sites/default/files/spotlight/download/Police%20Officer%20BodyWorn%20Cameras.pdf.