A Quantitative Study on Officer Proactivity Before and After Body-Worn Cameras Using Archived Data
Helms School of Government
Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice (PhD)
Primary Subject Area
body-worn cameras (BWCs), traffic stops, deterrence theory, self-awareness theory, social learning theory, career-stage theory
Smith, Jessica Renee, "A Quantitative Study on Officer Proactivity Before and After Body-Worn Cameras Using Archived Data" (2022). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 3745.
This quantitative study aimed to determine if traffic stops and self-initiated activities for first-line patrol officers, from a large police agency in the Southern United States, decreased after body-worn cameras (BWCs) were issued. Additionally, this study attempted to determine if there was an effect on the crime rate after the cameras were issued. Body-worn cameras have been considered as a device to improve police-citizen relationships. While numerous studies find the cameras useful; some drawbacks regarding the BWCs are beginning to surface. The importance of this study will allow department leaders to make certain that body-worn cameras are adding value and not hindering police performance, as many cities are seeing an uptick in violent crime. The purpose of the study was to determine if officer proactive initiatives declined over time after the BWCs were issued and if this influenced the crime rate. A quantitative analysis using archived data was utilized. The sample consisted of 1,455 first-line patrol officers who worked in a patrol capacity for April-June 2014, 2017, and 2019. The data collected from 2014 was prior to BWCs while the data retrieved in 2017 and 2019 was post BWCs. The study indicated traffic stops and self-initiated activity significantly decreased after BWCs were issued. This contrasts with other studies that have analyzed traffic stops and self-initiated activities specifically. Recommendations for future research include evaluating agencies of equal size for generalizability and conducting a qualitative analysis using officers from this sample to determine precisely why proactive initiatives have decreased significantly.