Analysts from the nonprofit research organization CNA, working with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and researchers from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, have released new research on the impact of body-worn cameras (BWCs). The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice, concluded that BWCs are associated with significant reductions in complaints of police misconduct and police use of force incidents. The study also determined that BWCs can generate considerable cost savings for police by simplifying the complaint resolution process.  

The study employed a randomized controlled trial where approximately 400 LVMPD officers were assigned into one of two groups: a “treatment” group who wore BWCs and a “control” group who did not wear BWCs but who served as comparisons for the BWC officers. After one year in the trial, the number of officers with at least one complaint of misconduct had decreased 30 percent for BWC officers but had decreased only 5 percent for control officers. Similarly, the number of officers with at least one use of force incident had decreased 37 percent for BWC officers but had actually increased 4% for control officers. Body-worn cameras were also associated with more citations issued (an increase of 8 percent) and more arrests made (an increase of 6 percent).

The analysis further determined that the department realized significant cost savings associated with fewer complaints of misconduct and fewer resources spent on misconduct investigations.

“This research, part of a growing body of rigorous research regarding body-worn cameras, provides valuable information to the increasing number of police agencies implementing body-worn cameras in the United States,” said Dr. Chip Coldren, Managing Director of Justice Programs at CNA and one of the report’s authors. “It provides compelling evidence cameras can generate savings by simplifying complaint resolution, which can add up to millions of dollars for a major city and lead to large reductions in the use of force by police.”