Equipping Civilians with Body-Worn Cameras: An Experiment to Untangle Observer Effects

Raised of $10,000 Goal
Ended on 12/29/16
Campaign Ended
  • $15
  • 1%
  • Finished
    on 12/29/16



Preliminary Protocol: 

In this 6 month experiment, we will randomly assign volunteering 17-30 year old inner city males – who are more likely to confront police – to treatment and control conditions. The experimental group will be provided BWCs that will record their interactions with police officers, while the control group will not be equipped with these devices. A cloud-based storage will serve as our data source, in order to record arrests, complaints, use of force and overall officers’ demeanor. Prior to the experiment, the randomly selected sample will be interviewed on recent encounters with law enforcement, existing perceptions of police, and individual propensities. After the experiment, the subjects will be interviewed again to assess any change in impressions, individual behavior, and overall quality of interaction with police.

Preliminary Apparatus: 

We will collaborate with Taser Inc. to provide our experimental group with their HD body- worn-cameras. These body-mounted cameras captured video evidence from the civilian’s perspective. The BWC is convenient and compact, weighing in at 108 g and small enough to place on the civilian’s shirt collar. The units were water resistant, videoed in color, and have a battery lasting for at least 12 h. The experimental group will be instructed to have the cameras on whenever they are out in public and if approached by a police officer to inform ‘interactees’ that videotaping is in progress. All data from the cameras will be collated using a web-based computerized video management system developed by evidence.com. The software will track and inventory all Taser Inc. video cameras evidence. The system automatically uploads the civilians’ videos at the end of their shifts and the research team is granted full access to these rich data. 

Pre Analysis Plan

We will employ three analytical approaches to analyze the outcomes. First, we will use a Poisson model to assess differences between experimental and control groups. Group assignment (‘‘experimental shifts’’ [0]/‘‘control shifts’’ [1]) is set as an explanatory variable, and the dependent variable is whether or not use-of-force occurs.  Second, for each outcome variable, we will assess the standardized mean difference for the rates of use-of-force incidents per shift. Third, we will observe the number of use-of-force incidents and citizens’ complaints that were recorded prior to the experiment and compared them to the figures during the year of the experiment, in order to enrich the analysis. This quasi- experimental approach will be used in order to indicate how the entire police organization responds to wearing the cameras; assessing the city-wide impact of the trial by comparing the data before and after the implementation of body-worn-cameras. 


This project has not yet shared any protocols.