Three In Four Americans Believe Police Officers Should Not Decide When To Manually Start Or Stop Recording On Body-Worn Cameras

Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department's new body-worn cameras

Recent high-profile incidents have prompted President Obama to call for police to adopt use of body-worn video cameras. But a recent survey conducted by ORC International reveals Americans have concerns over how and when body-worn video cameras should be used in the field.

According to results from the American Sentiment toward Police Body-Worn Cameras national survey, an overwhelming majority of Americans do not want individual police officers to determine when to record using body-worn cameras. When asked if it should be left up to the police officer to decide when to manually Start or Stop body-worn camera video recording, 82 percent of Black, 77 percent of White and 74 percent of Hispanic respondents answered No.

Of the 71 percent of survey respondents who were aware of President Obama’s recommendation that police officers should wear body-worn video cameras, only 5 percent of Black and 9 percent of Hispanic respondents thought police officers should decide when to manually Start or Stop body-worn camera recording compared to 21 percent of White respondents.

However, the survey also shows Americans believe that one or more body-worn video camera capabilities can improve police accountability and transparency (90%). These features include body-worn video recording starting automatically when the police in-car video recording systems starts recording (72%), 9-1-1 Central Dispatch remotely starts body-worn video camera recording when police officers are dispatched to a call (71%), and real-time upload of video to Central Dispatch over a wireless connection (68%).

The survey also revealed Americans worry over security of video recorded by police body-worn video cameras. In particular, 60 percent of all respondents expressed concern about video being leaked to social media websites, 59 percent expressed concern about video being posted on YouTube, and 44 percent expressed concern that video would be shared with other police officers. More women are concerned about video being leaked than men:

  • Leaked to social media websites – women 64% compared to men 56%
  • Leaked to YouTube – women 62% compared to men 55%
  • Shared with other police officers – women 47% compared to men 40%

The survey results were consistent across US Region, Household Income, Household Size, Number of Children in the Household, and Education Level.

“In talking with our law enforcement customers, the survey findings mirror law enforcement concerns about deploying body-worn video cameras prematurely,” reported Robert McKeeman, CEO of Utility. “Police departments want technology that standardizes and automates when body-worn video is recorded – minimizing the impact of human bias, increasing citizen and police accountability, and increasing the police officer’s personal safety.”