TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Researchers at the University of South Florida have teamed up with the Orlando Police Department for a long-term study on officers' actions using footage from body cameras.
Fifty officers will wear tiny cameras on places like their sunglasses, collars and caps to provide critical perspective about their daily interactions and decisions. Fifty other officers participating in the yearlong -study will not wear the cameras.
Police departments across the country are increasingly using body cameras, which cost between $200 to $400 each, to provide valuable first-hand accounts and investigate issues such as use of force.
Researchers from USF's criminology department will examine the number of incidents and complaints involving force and whether injuries go up or down. They'll also look at whether civilians treat officers wearing cameras differently and whether they're less likely to approach them. The footage can also when a complaint is lodged against an officer.
"If you really want to make cameras a strong accountability mechanism, you want the supervisors to review random film and let the officers know," said Lorie Fridell, associate professor and graduate director in criminology at USF. "That makes the film more powerful in terms of promotion and good behavior."
The Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge led a body camera study in 2012 with California's Rialto Police Department, using a smaller sample size of officers than the USF study. Complaints against Rialto police officers dropped by 88 percent. And officers wearing cameras used force almost 60 percent less.
The Tampa Bay Times (http://tinyurl.com/ku7tfkr) reports Chief Paul Rooney is considering permanently adding the equipment to his arsenal, but wanted more details before he made a decision.
Taser International, which also makes body cameras, is providing the cameras. The company is interested in research that shows whether people behave differently when they know they're being filmed.
Information from: Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.), http://www.tampabay.com.
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