Technology Limitations in Policing (The Reality is…)

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This chapter will discuss some of the most common issues and concerns associated with some of the modern technologies that are currently available to law enforcement. It will make use of the areas previously discussed, but provide for a real world, contextual position. It will consider body-worn cameras and electronic control devices, to social media, drones, and records management technology; each has its own set of issues that are being brought to light in an effort to allow law enforcement agencies to better implement these technologies.

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Objective Police use-of-force continues to be a major source of international concern, inviting interest from academics and practitioners alike. Whether justified or unnecessary/excessive, the exercise of power by the police can potentially tarnish their relationship with the community. Police misconduct can translate into complaints against the police, which carry large economic and social costs. The question we try to answer is: do body-worn-cameras reduce the prevalence of use-of-force and/or citizens’ complaints against the police? Methods We empirically tested the use of body-worn-cameras by measuring the effect of videotaping police–public encounters on incidents of police use-of-force and complaints, in randomized-controlled settings. Over 12 months, we randomly-assigned officers to “experimental-shifts” during which they were equipped with body-worn HD cameras that recorded all contacts with the public and to “control-shifts” without the cameras (n = 988). We nominally defined use-of-force, both unnecessary/excessive and reasonable, as a non-desirable response in police–public encounters. We estimate the causal effect of the use of body-worn-videos on the two outcome variables using both between-group differences using a Poisson regression model as well as before-after estimates using interrupted time-series analyses. Results We found that the likelihood of force being used in control conditions were roughly twice those in experimental conditions. Similarly, a pre/post analysis of use-of-force and complaints data also support this result: the number of complaints filed against officers dropped from 0.7 complaints per 1,000 contacts to 0.07 per 1,000 contacts. We discuss the findings in terms of theory, research methods, policy and future avenues of research on body-worn-videos.
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This article examines the determinants of citizen satisfaction with police. Using data from a recent nationwide survey of Whites, Hispanics, and African Americans, the authors test several hypotheses about how situational and structural factors shape attitudes toward the police. Much has been written about Black-White differences in views of the police, but most of this literature does little to explain why these differences exist. Moreover, very little is known about Hispanics’ relations with the police. We take a step toward closing this gap by developing a model of relations between police and minority-group members that focuses on such explanatory factors as personal contacts with officers, neighborhood crime conditions, and policing practices in accounting for variations in satisfaction with police.
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