After a series of high-profile police shootings, police departments across the nation turned to body cameras, hoping they would curb abuses. But a rigorous study released Friday shows that they have almost no effect on officer behavior.
The 18-month study of more than 2,000 police officers in Washington found that officers equipped with cameras used force and prompted civilian complaints at about the same rate as those who did not have them.
Advocates for body cameras — including police officers, lawmakers and citizens in high-crime neighborhoods — have long argued that requiring officers to wear the devices would have a “civilizing effect” on both officers and the civilians who encounter them. After the 2014 fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American man, in Ferguson, Mo., calls for their use became more widespread.