U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Police accounts of critical incidents: a descriptive and empirical assessment

NCJ Number
Journal of Crime & Justice Volume: 17 Dated: 2022
Date Published

This study assesses police accounts of critical incidents through the use of data from body-worn cameras (BWCs).


Data from body-worn cameras (BWCs) have emerged as a new approach to measuring police activity. These data, in the form of video footage, represent a new method to systematically examine how critical incidents involving police unfold. Recently, law enforcement agencies have begun documenting and releasing elements of video and other data to offer the public their accounts of critical incidents involving police-citizen encounters. These include officer-involved shootings, use of force, and police activity involving protests and demonstrations. The current research analyzes these critical incidents in three interrelated ways: First, the authors describe the extent to which BWC footage is used in the critical incident accounts. Second, the authors assess the quality of the audio and video within the BWC footage that is released. Third, the authors closely code and analyze the data for patterns of police use of force and citizen resistance within the context of extant theories of use of force. The implications for policy and research, and the utility and limitations of this method for future research are considered. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2022