Effects of police body-worn cameras on citizen compliance and cooperation: Findings from a quasi-randomized controlled trial

Mustafa Demir, Anthony A. Braga, Robert Apel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Research Summary: This study tests the effect of body-worn cameras (BWCs) on stopped drivers’ perceptions of complying with police directives, obeying traffic laws, and cooperating with the police. A quasi-randomized controlled trial was conducted with drivers stopped at routine traffic checkpoints. Drivers in the treatment group encountered police officers wearing BWCs, and drivers in the control group encountered police officers without BWCs. Surveys were administered after the stop. Findings suggest motorists exposed to BWC officers reported significantly stronger agreement with compliance with police directives, obedience toward traffic laws, and assistance with police duties. Further analysis indicates BWCs generate indirect impacts on specific citizen compliance mediated through improvements in procedural justice, as well as indirect impacts on general compliance and cooperation mediated through improvements in both police legitimacy and procedural justice. Policy Implications: The results suggest that BWCs may be an effective means of improving drivers’ willingness to comply with directives, follow traffic laws, and assist police. Consistent with a process-based explanation, their effectiveness stems almost entirely from drivers’ experience of procedurally just and legitimacy-enhancing treatment by police officers. The findings indicate BWCs provide a form of officer accountability that mere training in procedural justice might be insufficient to achieve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)855-882
Number of pages28
JournalCriminology and Public Policy
Volume19
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Administration
  • Law

Keywords

  • body-worn camera
  • compliance
  • cooperation
  • legitimacy
  • procedural justice
  • quasi-randomized controlled trial

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