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The Evidentiary Value of Body-Worn Camera Footage: A Survey of Prosecutors and Public Defenders

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2019
16 pages
This study examined the impact of police body-worn camera (BWC) footage as evidence and the challenges and opportunities it affords case processing, based on an analysis of data from a survey of prosecutors and defense attorneys in Monroe County, New York; San Diego County, California; and Travis County, Texas.
The analysis of survey data focuses on variations among assistant district attorneys and public defenders in terms of the time, expectations, and anticipated consequences of BWC regarding their work in processing cases in local courts. This report first outlines the concerns and research gaps in the current literature. It then presents an overview of the three local justice systems involved in the study. This is followed by the presentation of the results of comparisons between the responses of defense attorneys and prosecutors to a series of parallel questions posed in the survey. The study results are then discussed in the context of policy for BWC regarding its evidentiary value and contribution to adjudication. Overall, the survey findings indicate that the expectation of BWCs and their impact has more similarities than differences among the prosecutors and defense attorneys at the three sites. Notable convergences are that BWCs help both professions by providing additional evidence that contributes to the preparation of their cases; however, BWC footage involves additional time commitments for viewing and assessment. Both professions desire additional training in the technology and limitations of BWCs. Recommendations are offered for future research methods that will address the limitations of the current study design. 7 tables

Date Published: January 1, 2019