Researchers: Police body cameras produce a “civilizing effect”

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The Mental Health Alliance has helped moderate a online chat Thursday, of a potential police body worn camera program to be carried out at the Portland Police Department.

A panel researcher said research shows that the use of body-worn cameras has resulted in reduced complaints from citizens in other cities using the cameras. They said the key is letting people know the cameras are rolling and it looks like Portland is on the right track to doing so on its proposed schedule.

As Portland continues to determine what its body camera program will look like, during mayoralty, CNA Corporation’s Dr Dan Lawrence said cities like Milwaukee and New York City that have already implemented body camera programs have experienced a decrease in complaints from citizens.

Lawrence said the drop in citizen complaints was more than 20% for cities where the studies took place.

“In Milwaukee, we saw a 29% reduction in citizen complaints for officers wearing body cameras. New York just released a study in the last week or so, they found a 21% reduction in complaints, and that has been seen in many other states as well, ”Lawrence said.

The researchers believe the reduction in complaints is due to something that has been called a “civilizing effect” for agents and those with whom they interact, noted Lawrence.

“An Arizona state professor hypothesized that there is a civilizing effect, if people know they have a camera and are recording them, and officers know they are have a camera on them, there will be a civilizing effect, they will behave differently because they know they are recorded, ”Lawrence said.

In cities that were the first to adopt body cameras, citizens were unaware that body cameras were present, so researchers say notification is important for people to understand that there is a recording and there is Looks like Portland is considering this for now as it moves ahead.

“I really appreciate that Portland is trying to implement a notification requirement that officers notify the community member that there is a camera worn on the body and that they record during this interaction,” Lawrence said. .

Comments and concerns were also brought forward about body cameras and their impact on people with mental health issues.

The MHA said some of the questions and comments gathered from members of the public Thursday will be included in a brief to be presented at a fairness hearing in January.

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