Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Ronald J. Coleman (Georgetown University Law Center) has posted Measuring Police Body Camera Infrastructure (Forthcoming, Santa Clara Law Review Volume 62) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Police body cameras have been in ascendancy since at least the 2014 deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, and body cameras are poised to play an increasing role in law enforcement following the more recent deaths of George Floyd, Daunte Wright, and others. Indeed, President Biden, himself, has repeatedly called for passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021, which would require federal law enforcement officers to wear a body camera. Notwithstanding their ascendancy, important empirical questions on body cameras persist. For instance, do local law enforcement agencies have adequate infrastructure to support body camera programs? If not, what areas should policy-makers target in order to increase the adequacy of local agency infrastructure? And, are certain groups of agencies doing better with body camera infrastructure than others? Answering these and related questions requires accurate measurement of phenomena that are extremely challenging to measure. This Article presents what appears to be a first-of-its-kind multidimensional measure of local U.S. law enforcement body camera infrastructure: the Police Body Camera Infrastructure Index (“BCII”). Analysis of the BCII offers three primary contributions. First, it provides a broad summary of over 1,100 local agencies’ inadequacy in body camera infrastructure based on a large-N dataset. Second, it isolates the specific factors which drive agency inadequacy. Third, since countrywide averages have the potential to mask important differences across agencies, it reveals the position of certain agency subgroups based on size and location. It is hoped that this Article will inform policy-makers and local stakeholders in improving body camera programs, highlight the value of measurement in formulating such policy decisions, and spur continued research into body camera programs.