Police Body Cameras May Not Be As Fair As You Think

Image/Ryan Johnson/Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 2.0


A new study out of Northwestern University shows that body camera footage can lead to less harsh judgments of police officers than dash camera footage. Why? The point-of-view doesn’t allow us to attach judgment to the officer as easily.

Think about it like a video game. Since you’re seeing things from the officer’s perspective, research shows that may actually make people relate MORE to officers instead of those interacting with them. It might make victims seem like offenders.

After analyzing almost 400 videos, the study was able to conclude that officers spent way less time on video in body camera footage than in dash cam footage. This is what really makes the difference!

Police departments around the country are using body cameras less and less often because they say it’s too expensive to store all the footage. But whether they use them or not, HOW we see officers through body cameras matters.

Body cameras could have potential benefits when it comes to accountability in policing - but they're not the only solution. Cameras don’t always equal fairness. How we see through them matters just as much.

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