Police Body-Worn Cameras: Research Developments on an Emerging Technology

Publication Date01 September 2019
AuthorMatthew S. Crow,John Ortiz Smykla
DOI10.1177/0734016819854789
Date01 September 2019
SubjectIntroduction
CJR854789 257..262 Introduction
Criminal Justice Review
2019, Vol. 44(3) 257-262
Police Body-Worn Cameras:
ª 2019 Georgia State University
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Research Developments
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DOI: 10.1177/0734016819854789
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on an Emerging Technology
Matthew S. Crow1 and John Ortiz Smykla2
Abstract
Police body-worn cameras (BWCs) represent one of the latest innovations to permeate policing,
and the rapid speed with which law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and
internationally have adopted or considered the technology has been greatly influenced by envi-
ronmental factors, including high-profile deadly force incidents and national-level politics (Pre-
sident’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, 2015), and the promises of transparency,
accountability, and evidentiary value. The proliferation of BWCs in policing has been met with an
explosion of research examining myriad issues related to the technology. As this body of research
continues to expand and develop, it will be increasingly important to effectively communicate the
findings to scholars, policy makers, and those in the field who are, arguably, most effected by BWCs.
This special issue of Criminal Justice Review contributes to that effort.
Keywords
law enforcement/security, police culture/accountability, police processes
The integration and influence of technological developments in policing has a long history. Patrol
cars, 911 systems, two-way radios, conducted energy devices, in-vehicle cameras, and crime map-
ping are a few examples. Most believe these technologies have impacted the practice of policing and
the role of law enforcement in society. However, others argue that police work has not changed
much since the 1920s in spite of these accountable technologies.
The incorporation and impact of any innovation in policing is shaped by various factors related to
the internal and external environments of the institution and organization (Crank, 2003; Crank &
Langworthy, 1992; Egnoto et al., 2017; Koper, Lum, & Willis, 2014). Police body-worn cameras
(BWCs) represent one of the latest innovations to permeate policing, and the rapid speed with which
law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and internationally have adopted or consid-
ered the technology has been greatly influenced by environmental factors, including high-profile
1 University of West Florida, Pensacola, FL, USA
2 Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL, USA
Corresponding Author:
Matthew S. Crow, University of West Florida, Pensacola, FL, USA.
Email: mcrow@uwf.edu

258
Criminal Justice Review 44(3)
deadly force incidents and national-level politics (President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing,
2015), and the promises of transparency, accountability, and evidentiary value. The proliferation of
BWCs in policing has been met with an explosion of research examining myriad issues related to the
technology. As this body of research continues to expand and develop, it will be increasingly
important to effectively communicate the findings to scholars, policy makers, and those in the field
who are, arguably, most effected by BWCs. This special issue of Criminal Justice Review contri-
butes to that effort.
The idea for this special issue stemmed from several research pieces we published in 2016 and
2017 and the attention they received (Crow, Snyder, Crichlow, & Smykla, 2017; Smykla, Crow,
Crichlow, & Snyder, 2016). We had the good fortune of working with two police agencies and a
countywide law enforcement group who welcomed academic research partners. We received gov-
ernment funding to hire a survey research center to conduct multiple countywide telephone surveys
and were invited to join a county commission study group on BWCs. We presented several con-
ference papers and answered media requests. During this time, scholars in the United States and
abroad contacted us about our research and we received numerous requests to review manuscripts
reporting new BWC research. It was clear to us that although there had been previous special issues
on BWCs in other journals, we could grow the literature on national and international attitudinal
studies on BWCs, report on jurisdictional analyses, and expand theory development and testing.
Doing all that in a special issue with a...

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