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Public Perceptions of Delays in the Release of Police Body-Worn Camera Footage


Abstract and Figures

Delays in the release of police body-worn camera (BWC) video footage have amplified public concerns about police misconduct. People question law enforcement transparency when video from BWCs is not shared with the community in a timely manner. The qualitative case study explores the life experiences of the community and the victims' family related to delays in the release of police BWC footage. Mettler and Sorelle's policy feedback theory was used for the study's theoretical framework. The research questions focus on understanding the lived experiences and perceptions of community relationships with law enforcement around transparency, communication, and information sharing. A qualitative study was used to examine 13 participants to determine which factors influence perceptions of law enforcement by the community and the victim's family when there is delay in the release of BWC video. In addition, I focused on families who have been directly impacted and members of the community who have been indirectly impacted when police BWC video was delayed. Results show that both the community and the victim's family members are requesting changes to community policing initiatives for better community engagement and for building positive relationships, trust, transparency, police legitimacy, and communication. This study presents law enforcement and society with insight on how to improve public perceptions.
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To my family, wife Alishia, two sons Christopher and JaqSon, I love you all.
Journal of Social Change
2020, Volume 13, Issue 1, Pages 1–17
DOI: 10.5590/JOSC.2020.13.1.01
© The Author(s)
Original Research
Special Edition on Racism in America
The Special Edition on Racism in America provides scholarly information on the insidious nature of racism
and offers solutions in an effort to eliminate it from society.
Public Perceptions of Delays in the Release of Police
Body-Worn Camera Footage
Christopher L. Bush, PhD
Walden University, Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States 0000-0002-8882-2601
Delays in the release of police body-worn camera (BWC) video footage have amplified public concerns about
police misconduct. People question law enforcement transparency when video from BWCs is not shared with the
community in a timely manner. The qualitative case study explores the life experiences of the community and
the victims’ family related to delays in the release of police BWC footage. Mettler and Sorelle’s policy feedback
theory was used for the study’s theoretical framework. The research questions focus on understanding the lived
experiences and perceptions of community relationships with law enforcement around transparency,
communication, and information sharing. A qualitative study was used to examine 13 participants to determine
which factors influence perceptions of law enforcement by the community and the victim’s family when there is
delay in the release of BWC video. In addition, I focused on families who have been directly impacted and
members of the community who have been indirectly impacted when police BWC video was delayed. Results
show that both the community and the victim’s family members are requesting changes to community policing
initiatives for better community engagement and for building positive relationships, trust, transparency, police
legitimacy, and communication. This study presents law enforcement and society with insight on how to
improve public perceptions.
Keywords: body worn cameras; police; communication; delays; trust; discrepancies; manipulation; community
policing; legitimacy; transparency
Date Submitted: July 12, 2020 | Date Published: September 9, 2020
Recommended Citation
Bush, C. L. (2020). Public perceptions of delays in the release of police body-worn camera footage. Journal of Social
Change, 13, 117.
In the United States, the media has given increased attention to encounters between police officers and the
public that have ended badly, sometimes with injury or death (Paulsen, 2016). In many of these cases, video
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Journal of Social Change 2
footage from an officer’s dash and body-worn camera (BWC), as well as from community recording devices,
has documented the incidents. There is major concern from the community and victims’ families when the
video from an officer’s BWC is delayed (Mateescu et al., 2016). In recent cases that have garnered national
attention, police departments have been slow to comment on the video from BWCs. Farmer (2016) stated that
police departments keep information guarded and secured from being leaked by operating in a secretive
manner. The delayed video footage, withheld from families and the community, is also not shared uniformly
or in a consistent time frame across law enforcement agencies (Thomas, 2016). Thomas stated that this
hampers the community/law enforcement relationship nationwide because no consistent time line can be
The introduction of BWC was intended to improve the public’s perception of the criminal justice system,
specifically regarding law enforcement. The exact opposite has happened and this has further contributed to
the black community’s determination to express, identify, and validate their views on the injustice,
inequalities, and systemic racism directed towards their community. Isom (2016) stated that an air of
injusticehas been present, which clarifies why there is an overwhelming uproar from a disadvantaged
community in response to perceived police injustice. The added attention around police BWCs has elevated
the community’s reasoning that race is a contributing factor to strained relationships between police and the
communities they serve. Results of a recent study confirmed that minorities and Whites have different
perceptions of policing and the legal systems. These differences are evident and continue to be a problem that
must be addressed to understand the impact it has within the legal system (Willis et. al, 2019).
When the police department holds onto the video and does not explain the delay, however, questions surface
around transparency. The little trust the community has in the police begins to dissipate, leading to more
questions about the transparency of officers (Paulsen, 2014). Police misconduct around BWCs has drawn
much attention from victims’ families, city officials, and the community. Yet, Berdjis (2016) stated that a
minimal amount of research has been conducted on the impact police body cameras have on the community.
This research addresses the impact of delayed video on the community and how it further prevents them from
building a positive and trusting relationship with the police. When community members learn that policies
around BWCs are relaxed or that there is no policy in place until such time as an unforeseen incident happens,
they are prone to believe there may be some discrepancies in police stories, as well as the potential for
tampering with the BWC video footage (Paulsen, 2014). In conducting this research, I sought to examine the
opinions the public has on BWCs and the delayed release of videos.
The inconsistently applied and existing policies in place for law enforcement regarding when to release video
create an even more toxic relationship with the community. The public sees no trust, a lack of communication,
and no transparency and begins to question the legitimacy of law enforcement’s purpose and work. Parry
(2017) stated that BWC video delay is becoming a growing problem that is being exposed nationwide, causing
community members, law enforcement, and political leaders to step in to make the necessary changes.
To close this gap between police and the communities they are meant to serve, both law enforcement and the
community need a collective effort to engage in an active and productive partnership. However, the police
must examine their role in this issue and take an honest assessment of themselves and their culture. Police
departments should examine how they communicate and interact with their communities and improve their
transparency to ensure that their legitimacy and trustworthiness is in good standing with the community. An
opportunity exists for police officers and departments to embark on social change; these relationships can be
salvaged and better policies can be implemented that work for the greater good for law enforcement and the
The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the perceptions of family members and citizens related to
the delayed release of video from police BWC’s and how this impacts their ability to trust the police. The study
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may clarify public concerns related to delayed video releases of BWC footage and provide public policy
decision-makers with the opportunity to modify or formulate policies on BWC video release to avoid poor
relationships with their communities. I collected information on individuals’ perceptions and used those
developing themes to answer the research questions. Media reports, court cases, and local accounts of
incidents involving police BWC video being delayed and not being shared with victim families and
communities in a timely manner continue (Mateescu et al., 2016). I explored recent cases and the experiences
of individuals who have been impacted by BWC delayed video. I identified other significant contributing
factors that affected the community perceptions of law enforcement and what impeded relationships between
victim’s families, community members, and law enforcement. The following research questions emerged from
the literature review:
Central research question: How does the lack of a requirement to immediately release the video to the family
members contribute to your distrust of the police?
Subquestion: 1. What do community members believe justifies the delay of video from body-worn cameras?
Subquestion 2. What can policy makers do to improve communication and transparency in your community?
The intention of adopting BWCs was to establish trust, ensure safety, provide transparency, and inspire
officers to improve their conduct with the public, thus improving the relationship between the community and
law enforcement (Cao, 2015). Grainer (2016) stated that questions continue to surface regarding the use of
BWCs. Communities have requested that law enforcement respond to their demand of adopting BWCs for all
police officers. The implementation of BWCs and the policies surrounding them vary widely across
departments (Paulsen, 2016). The varying policies have been viewed as inconsistent by the community
(Paulsen). Ariel et al. (2014) pointed out that attention paid to law enforcement leadership and personnel has
been met with an uproar from families of victims and the community as to why BWC video is delayed. Ariel et
al. also said that a variety of research has been conducted on the use of BWC’s and news articles have
circulated that address the community concerns. Ariel (2016) discussed how body cameras affect how officers
manage their contact with citizens. BWC use highlights how officer behavior changes when they know that
incidents are recorded, and superiors may review those recordings. The concern that the families and
community members have around BWCsdelayed footage and general use supports the need for this study.
Furthermore, this study extends scholarship about the lack of policies that are in place to immediately release
BWC video to family members and how this increases the public’s distrust in the police.
The Literature: Community PolicingTrust, Transparency, Legitimacy,
and Policies
Police departments must begin to examine their overall interactions with the community as they continue to
establish policies around community policing (Hemmer, 2017). The prevalence of social media and its ability
to quickly capture police misconduct and other negative aspects that can impact police legitimacy provide the
community firsthand access to moments that contribute to perceptions of police mistrust. Over the past few
years, U.S. police have been in the news for carelessness and irresponsibility with regard to managing their
BWC video and their decisions to hold onto video without letting families review it in a timely manner, choices
that have impacted communities around the country (Mateescu et al., 2016). When circumstances like this
take place, citizens embrace past perceptions of officers that involved police misconduct, discrepancies in
their stories, and tampered evidence. For police to narrow the gap between them and the community
regarding these perceptions, they must establish trust, starting with communication and transparency with
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their community (Hemmer, 2017; Whitten, 2017). Once police have built better rapport with citizens of their
community, they can have conversations to rectify past and current problems. Researchers such as Hemmer,
Lee (2016), and Whitten contend that, in this way, police departments can reduce any future barriers.
Therefore, after a plan has been put in place to start these conversations, both the community and police must
embrace a collective effort. This will ultimately improve the community’s trust in the police and ensure that
police are accountable and transparent with sharing needed information. More communication may minimize
any skepticism the community may form by allowing members to be engaged in conversation early on. To
achieve such a goal, the police will need to provide education and training on what can be shared and what
information needs to be secured so the community has better understanding (Escutia, 2016). Police can
review and discuss with the community current policies, which the community may question, and police can
take part in feedback sessions to help members of law enforcement go back and examine what can be changed
or done differently. I reviewed key literature concepts related to the study topic’s theoretical framework.
Emerging relevant topics in the literature review included the history, purpose, and use of BWCs; policies for
BWCs; police transparency and legitimacy; and community policing. Several theories could have been used as
lenses for this study. I chose the policy feedback theory (PFT) (Mettler & Sorelle, 2014), which focuses on
communication and was the most fitting to answer the research questions .
Policy Feedback TheorySolution to Implementing Policies with the
I used a framework centered around communication, specifically, the PFT, which emerged in the 1980s.
(Mettler & SoRelle, 2014). The PFT served as the lens to examine the problem and support data collection and
analysis. PFT encompasses the determination of a policy’s legitimacy (i.e., whether it is appropriate or
inappropriate), according to Mettler and Sorelle. The PFT is grounded in historical institutionalism.
Developed in the 1970s, historical institutionalism is an approach to understanding the effects of policies by
considering their context, providing a larger framework for understanding the policy’s origins and outcomes
(Mettler & SoRelle). Mettler & SoRelle explored historical institutionalism over the past 5 years, a time in
which focus has been on political factors, giving them clear direction to emphasize how PFT can be a resource
for reviewing policies. Mettler and SoRelle collaborated to show how PFT can be incorporated to explore
outcomes of policies once implemented.
Building on their work, I show how PFT can engage the community to be assets in terms of being individuals
who can review old policies that are simply not working or driving a wedge between community and police.
Overall, this framework allowed the community, local city officials, and government to examine how policies
influence attitudes and behaviors and how working collaboratively can be a success for all involved. I used
PFT to guide this study, addressing the influence of BWC video policies that affect the community and victim’s
families to answer the research questions. The overall goal explored PFT outcomes from past and present
circumstances that were being questioned and determined how the negative feedback about the policy
influenced future policy decisions. Giving communities the opportunity to have a seat at the table to make
decisions on old and newly developed polices provided clarity that some positive attributes can diffuse over
time to neighboring counties, cities, states, and possibly globally, where social change can take place.
The purpose of this study was to investigate how law enforcement officers’ use of BWC video impacts the
community and to learn what perceptions community members have about police when controversial BWC
video is delayed. I examined the relationship that victims’ families and citizens of the community have with
police after they have lived through weeks without BWC footage release. I obtained information about the
victims’ families and the community perceptions about police communication, transparency, and legitimacy
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around BWC policies. After providing an overview of steps taken to address the research questions, I describe
the population and the sample of participants used to collect data as well as the procedures for sampling,
recruitment, data collection, and data analysis. I used a qualitative approach, focusing on families who have
been directly impacted and members of the community who have been indirectly impacted when police BWC
video is delayed. Finally, I reviewed news articles to compare to participants’ feedback from the interviews. I
compared these to demonstrate how, across the country, family and the community feedback aligned with the
interview questions presented to the 13 participants.
Participants were selected based on a purposive sampling for this research that targeted a diverse population
throughout the Topeka, Kansas, community. All of the individuals shared the experience of being impacted
about the news of BWC video being delayed. The targeted population consisted of male and female
participants who identify as white, black, Hispanic, or other. Topeka is in Shawnee County, which in 2017 had
a population of 178,187. This research identified two family members from Topeka, Kansas, who have been
directly impacted by police BWC delayed video to help provide a more in-depth conversation of how their lives
have been impacted and who have shared their perspectives from a personal experience through the tragic
deaths of their loved ones. The two family members selected for this study were directly targeted as they have
made themselves available for contact through social media. The other 11 participants were recruited from
local church congregations and from Topeka and surrounding communities.
The focus of this research was not to collect data based on race responses, but to filter through the community
by identifying local churches located regionally where the congregations depict diverse backgrounds who
could participate and provide feedback around BWC delayed video. This research aimed to learn, understand,
and become knowledgeable about a real-world phenomenon affecting the community and impacting its trust
in police when BWC video is delayed. Ravitch and Carl (2016) stated that sampling is the decision the
researcher makes in relation to knowing ahead of time from where and whom the data will be collected to
answer the questions related to the gap in the research.
A purposeful sampling was used to select the participants for this study. The sample size for this research was
scheduled to be 22 participants. The participants were selected through the 10 identified churches that have
been active in the Topeka community. I selected a minimum number as opposed to large number from each
congregation with the focus being one female and one male from each. The total number of members from
churches was scheduled to be 20 participants; 10 males and 10 females. The additional two participants are
families of victims from police excessive force incidents involving BWC video delays. They were chosen by
making themselves available for contact regarding the incident that took place with their loved one. There
were other cases in Kansas, but no information from the families has been shared with the public for contact.
The twenty members from church congregations and the two family members that were originally chosen
totaled 22 participants for a sample size for this research. This research was better suited for typical case
sampling to study how BWCs affects the victims’ families and the community. Typical case sampling is useful
when a researcher wants to study a phenomenon or trend as it relates to what are considered typicalor
averagemembers of the affected population. I selected identified families of victims and the community who
were the most knowledgeable about their perceptions regarding body worn camera (BWC) delayed video
release and could provide firsthand experiences to help learn more about the research topic (Rudestam &
Newton, 2015).
I chose the qualitative approach because it allowed me to obtain the personal perceptions of individuals who
are impacted by delayed video releases of BWC footage from their lived experiences. The design of the
research was imperative to this study to ensure alignment with the foundation that the research rested upon
and the framework that held it together. Also, the focal point of this study was positioned around the
discovery and understanding of the impact that police BWCs have had on individuals since their inception
around 2014 and 2015. More specifically, I focused on two topics that have not been studied according to my
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review of the literature: the impact of BWC delayed video releases on the families of victims and members of
the community and how it affects their perceptions of police departments from their lived experiences.
The qualitative approach allowed me to elicit an in-depth perspective on the experiences of the participants
around police BWCs. Rubin and Rubin (2016) explained that the data collection methodology used within a
qualitative study should allow participants to share their experiences. For this reason, I focused on multiple
approaches that involved conducting telephone and face-to-face interviews and emailing the questions. Posing
semistructured/open-ended questions allowed me to capture in-depth data to capitalize on emerging themes.
The main constructs that I focused on during the interviews included the impact of BWCs when release of the
video is delayed and how BWC policies affect community perceptions.
Along with collecting families and community perceptions of the phenomenon, I examined past and current
events. I turned my focus on document analysis (Rubin & Rubin, 2012) involving examining documents that
include newspaper articles, speeches, transcripts, and internet posts. Information on each event was collected
through multiple sources to build a full description of the events (Rudestam & Newton, 2015). I used these
publicly available documents to develop case themes and patterns of inconsistent approaches handled by the
police around BWC video release. This study described the events and various incidents around BWC delayed
video releases and polices that were in place or were lacking to better inform readers through family and
community perceptions from their experiences regarding the impact BWC delayed video has on them, and
through looking at past and current cases that are the most appropriate for this research. Qualitative data
collection research includes: Interviews with audio/and or video tape; direct, non-participant observation;
participant observation; field notes, journals, and logs. Rudestam and Newton (2015) described data
collection and logistics being subsumed under procedures. I selected events that have been in the news and
data was collected from mass media outlets: newspaper articles, online news articles, broadcast news reports
(television and radio), photos, and online news videos; police reports from the respective departments
involved in each case; social media messages from activists and concerned parties; citizen video taken by
bystanders and witnesses to the events; as well as police surveillance footage including body cameras and
police car dashboard cameras.
This research provided detailed notes from each interview to further analyze major themes developing during
the interviews. Recording the interviews ensured that I captured verbatim conversations for ease of
transcription. At the conclusion of gathering the participantsfeedback each research participant was
provided a copy of the interview transcription via email to ensure it is an accurate interpretation of the
intended purpose of the interview. The open-ended questions helped obtain information regarding participant
experiences to create an insightful, informal, interactive environment that directly focused on the participants’
experience as they lived it or were impacted by the event (Rubin & Rubin, 2012). Some participants results
that pertains to questions around access to review the footage, and participants perception about law
P3: I believe that officers hold on to video because they do not want other to see entirety of video. I
believe that they can be editing the video, theyre covering their butts, trying to get attorneys lined up
for any misconduct that might be there.
P5: If you have nothing to hide release the video. If you are being up front you will show good or bad…
not willing to do so I think it is bad…. But, I think that the risk that they take in not releasing video
immediately impacts everyone. Gives a perception that if the police are holding onto it without
releasing the video, that you start to think that its worse than what we already know, and some
changes are being made to the video.
P7: If video is not released then it seems like they are hiding something, keeping something from the
family pertinent information. I would lose trust if something was being withheld from me to review
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immediately. As a family member and as a citizen, I would think things are being deleted and edited.
P9: If there is a delayed time to release the video, I assume this leave time for stuff to be tempered with.
P11: So some editing could take place if it is in the hands of officers too long without the family being
seeing it.
P1: My dealings with the law enforcement changed my perception about them. I cannot stomach to
even look at the DA, the Chief, City Manager or any of them.
P2: Until this happened in my back yard and then seeing it happening worldwide, my perception has
P7: As a citizen my perception is, not all Topeka cops are bad cops…. all it takes is one bad cop to give
a bad wrap. The incident with the White case left a bad impression on many people of the community
especially to the victim family.
Participants shared in-depth response about a neutral person being present with the family to review the
P1: I do not believe there is a neutral person. I believe the DA, the Governor, the Mayor, the City and
the Police department are all in cahoots together and none of them could be neutral. Possibly the FBI
should come in and take all the evidence and not leave it with the same police department that is
being reviewed.”
P2(f): Family should have a private viewing, long as it is not anyone associated with police
department and community members could be chosen by officers identified who they feel more
comfortable with, so they shouldn’t have a say so in identifying a neutral person…. I do believe a
family member must be present… maybe with a pastor or legislator could serve as being neutral.
P3: There should be a citizen panel a single person would become bias. Should be on a rotating basis
like a jury duty. There is nothing that justifies the delay of video release…. maybe to the public but not
even to us either.
P4: Should always be a neutral person…. not like they will be called everyday (like an appointed
person for a short time… should not be law enforcement officer who was engaged, or city managers
cannot be neutral not even another police department…. A neutral person could be advisory group
and each of them should go through some type of training, understand implicit bias.
P5: Court system may be one alternative to identify a neutral person…. will be difficult to establish in
the beginning… neutral to who… not sure who fits in…. ACLU may be a consideration… someone who
P6: Neutral person should be someone that is not law enforcement that has no opinion or one sided…
maybe a sitting judge. The family should have say who the neutral person is.
P8 “Yes…having a person(s) or citizen review would be idea to have as neutral person…this person or
persons can be no way connected to the police (mayor, city council, or any other police departments).”
The following responses shared a similar response around police trustworthiness, what strategies can be
implemented to ensure there is efforts to build relationships to close the gap revealed responses that
supported some of the efforts and some that questioned the efforts:
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P1(f): Believe it or not, I hoped that they would do the right thing. Now, I know that they are anything
but transparent, legitimate and trustworthy. They are full of criminals that wear badges that allow
them to do things that would send you or I to jail. It is so much deeper than just law enforcement, it
goes all the way up. I guess my perception to answer your question is that they are corrupt, phony and
P2(f): I don’t trust them, I don’t believe their transparent at all they are not legitimate… I been in
Topeka 53 years, I been through all the changes… nothing really changes…. There are just good old
boys. The officer who shot the Llamas brothers off duty is now a detective. How does that happen?
Officer who killed White killed a dog, killed a person in a car accident still employed.
P3: Chief is trying…they need to get rid of the old corrupt officers they make it hard on the new
younger officers who is trying…. Transparency is squat. There is none. Theres no transparency.
Officers that are still there, they were trained under those corrupt from top to bottom. Youve got
some in the middle that are in their thirties that are trying and ok, its about 50, 50. I do believe that
the younger officers are trying to make a difference in their community.
P4: Much better than the past. The chief is trying… doesn’t want to be the legacy of the last chief
because of the incident that had happened with 102 White…. no one should blame him under the past
leadership… not too much to be transparency with not much incident.
P5: Honestly, I think they are trying to do better since work is being done going into the community….
the chief is starting to be more engaged… in the beginning much more was being done shortly after
the White shooting, seemed to may have slowed down a little… not much change as of lately.
P9: More need to be done…. they are attempting to do more, but not enough is being done. Not sure
how long this will last.
P11: Having been a person who was on the other side that have been arrested, I do see some better
intervention, but just when certain things come up is where they put themselves at question when the
community go back to not trusting their whole aspect of work.
I provided interview questions to all participants a week ahead of time to give them time to prepare for the
questions. The choice to conduct interviews for this study was in regard to the growing concern around BWC
video release to gain a better understanding of the community experience from a perspective of faith-based
participants who will not be biased regarding race, behaviors of the community impacted by delay of BWC
video after learning that policies are not followed or simply not in place, and relationships of the study
Because the data collection for this research, with the moderate sample, could be time consuming, I felt it
imperative to mange time appropriately and effectively for self and participants. I conducted a general pilot
test for the purpose of testing the questions and looking at time management regarding the time spent with
the participants. I selected two colleagues to participate to determine if the time is reasonable along with
evaluating how the selected pilot participants answer the questions. In addition, the primary reason for the
pilot test was for the researcher to check for consistency of questions assuring that the responses are
consistent. Finally, I coded the responses to see how themes emerged from the responses of the two selected
pilot participants.
The results from this study provides insight to participant’s perceptions that involve police body-worn camera
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delayed video release. The research describes that failed communication concerning when BWC video will be
released hampers the relationships of the community and family members to establish trust from the police.
Individuals impacted by events where there is a delay of video release began to speculate if there were any
discrepancies in law enforcement communication, how true they to their word, and the legitimacy of the work
they are doing.
Ten interview questions were used for this research to help address the central research question and two sub-
questions emerged from the literature review. Three of the interview questions fall under the central research
question, “how does the lack of a requirement to immediately release the video to the family members
contribute to your distrust of the police?Three other interview questions that differ from what fell under the
central research question fall under the sub-question #1: What do community members believe justifies the
delay of video from body worn cameras? The remaining 4 interview questions fit under sub-question #2,
What can policymakers do to improve communication and transparency in your community?
A total of 11 themes emerged from the interview responses. The predominant emerging themes were:
1. Video that is held back immediately alerts to something being hidden.
2. There is no justification to delay video.
3. Only the family member should make the decision to delay video.
4. Officers remained employed after their unethical acts.
5. Policies seem to fit the department and do not include the community.
The overall results collected from the families and community participantsperceptions impacted by police
body worn camera delayed footage and policies aligned with the secondary data news articles, where the
predominant themes emerged. I analyzed three specific incidents that recently gained national attention
around police BWC’s delayed video release: the murders of LaQuan McDonald in Chicago, Sylville Smith in
Milwaukee, and Dominique White in Topeka.
The predominant themes that emerged from the interviews and the articles are listed below.
Overall results for Central Research Question
Individuals expressed their feelings associated with the delay of the video and all expressed having the same
feeling they had to go through during the waiting of the video and how the feeling continues even when the
video was released.
Results for Subquestion 1
All participants believed that the family should have a neutral person but only with the family having some
input who the neutral person is. The participants also asked how do you define neutral?
Results for Subquestion 2
All the participants agreed that some form of interaction should include emerging community leaders other
than community leaders who are always called upon to take part in discussions around policies and all other
community and police matters.
The tables below provide a visual of the codes and themes that emerged from the interviews, and news
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Summary of the Main Results From the Research Question
The families and the general community, along with the secondary data, all expressed the same feeling and
perceptions around the delay of police BWC footage and lack of polices. The families who were directly
impacted that were interviewed and family’s stories in the news articles along with the community all agreed
that video should not be delayed. Furthermore, they all agreed that the video should at least be shared with
the family immediately. However, the participants stated that they respect the work and understand that the
investigation must take its course, but felt that sometime this prolongs the delay intentionally, which further
erodes their trust in police. The other major correlation from the three research questions demonstrated that
there is concern around current polices in place that do not address issues that emerge and the lack of policies
that do not exist until an incident occurs. Also, there is concern that policies not being appropriately
implemented impedes police and community relationships.
Data saturation set in when I got to the ninth participant interview and stopped the data collection at 13
participants, whereas all the data was recorded as the same feedback from the participants and from the data
collected from the three articles. Table 1 includes coding words and themes from the 13 interviews. In
addition, themes that emerged from the articles that aligned with the themes from the interviews are marked
with a check mark under the column labeled Article Themes along with the articles used to triangulate the
data with interviews.
Table 1: Alignment of Interview Codes and Themes to News Articles Themes
Interview code
Interview theme
Video that is held back immediately alerts to something is
being hidden.
Tampering, reediting or modified video.
There is no justification for video being delayed.
Video should be shared even during the ongoing investigation.
A neutral person should be one who has implicit bias
Body Worn Cameras
Only the family member should make the decision to delay
Progress is being made here in Topeka.
Officers remained employed after their unethical acts.
Communication is a need to implement strategies.
Policies seem to fit the department and does not include the
Officers should not only have to live in the community but
come from the community.
Table 2 lists the articles that provided data that I used to triangulate with the interviews. The articles are news
stories that focus on Laquan McDonald’s 2015 shooting, Sylville Smith’s 2015 shooting, and Dominque
White’s delayed video release. Several articles were reviewed where I pulled data that reference the family and
community comments around the delay of video from the police body worn camera.
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Journal of Social Change 11
Table 2: News Articles on Delayed Video Release
News Articles
Sylville Smith
Dominique White
Video release of Milwaukee Police
shooting delayed. (Luthern, 2016)
Family wants answers a
week after police shot and
killed Topeka man.
(Koenen, 2017)
Why Police Departments Don't
Always Release Body Cam Footage.
(Sandburn, 2016)
Video shows aftermath of
deadly Topeka police
shooting as family
continues to search for
answers. (Schladebeck,
Speculation about Milwaukee
shooting video mounts. (Luthern,
Compromise Could Free
Cop Cam Videos in
Kansas More Quickly.
(Koranda, 2018)
Your Right to Know: Public’s trust
was abused over police videos.
(Lueders, 2017)
Police should release
video. 2017, Nov. 21
(“Police Should Release
Video,” 2017))
Release of police body
camera recordings varies
across Kansas. (Moore
Release the body cams of
the officers who shot and
killed Dominique White.
(Joyce, 2017)
Protesters call for more
transparency in LPD
investigation of Topeka
shooting. (Bernard, 2017)
Death Certificate:
Dominque White died as
a result of gunshot
wounds to his back.
(Moore, 2017)
Table 3 highlights the codes and themes from the articles compared with the previous themes and codes from
the participantsresponses. Out of the 11 participant themes, article themes aligned with eight of them. Some
of the same code words that emerged in the articles matched participantscomments. They are marked with
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Journal of Social Change 12
three asterisk marks (***). Table 3 depicts the overall results from participants and secondary data.
Table 3: Codes/Article Themes and Themes from Interviews of Participants
Article themes
Participant themes
Will not rest until they get
answers/looking for answers
#1 Video that is held back
immediately alerts to
something being hidden
Make the video public
Unrivaled due to the transparency
Family left pondering for
Minimal details released by
The system is deeply flawed
Lack of transparencyno
engagement in the community
What is stopping you from releasing
the video
#2 People are left feeling
suspicious that there is
tampering, reediting or
modifications to the video
#3 There is no justification
where video should be delayed
#4 Video should be shared
even during the ongoing
#6 Only the family member
should make the decision to
delay video
#8 Officers remained
employed after their unethical
#9 Communication is a need
to implement strategies
#10 Policies seem to fit the
department and does not
include the community
In conducting this phenomenological qualitative research study, I sought to close the gap in scholarly
literature on the impact of delayed release of BWC video as perceived by community and family members.
Discussion of the findings in relation to the theoretical framework, the limitations of the study, future
research areas, and a summary are included. Police BWCs have become a popular topic ever since the
Ferguson incident in 2014 involving the officer involved shooting and killing of an 18-year-old African
American, Michael Brown (Farmer, 2015). BWCs have brought attention to law enforcement trustworthiness,
honesty, and legitimacy (Ariel, et al, 2014). In addition, their use has shed a light on how community
members view law enforcement.
This research provides insight on the opportunities stakeholders might be able to exploit to build better
policies and increase community and police engagement. Such communication may lead to better
relationships. The PFT (Mettler & Sorelle, 2014) allowed me to demonstrate how communication can be
established between individuals, business leaders, and organizational leaders. However, the primary purpose
of using the theoretical framework was to gain insight on the relationship between community and law
enforcement can be better when communication is the leading factor. The PFT tests the appropriateness of
Bush, 2020
Journal of Social Change 13
policies and the effects of lack of communication on victims’ family members and the community.
The study showed that both the community and the victim’s family members are requesting changes to
community policing initiatives for better community engagement and for building positive relationships,
trust, transparency, police legitimacy, and communication. The feedback from the participants confirmed the
need for better policies around communication and the release of BWC in order to stop video from being
delayed. Participants agreed that being at the table at the time policies are being reviewed or developed
around BWC video and other related polices that impact the community makes a difference when policies are
enforced. Parry (2017) stated that BWCs video delay is becoming a growing problem that is being exposed
nationwide, causing the community, and some leadership, to step in to make the necessary changes. Duck
(2017) implied that policy-makers could learn from the community experiences and perspectives if they allow
individuals to engage in conversation. This finding supports the underpinnings, of the Policy Feedback
Theory, which provides a framework to see through the lens of integrating community, law enforcement, and
all other disciplines to work collectively through communication.
Implications for Social Change
This research contributes to positive social change that can impact relationships and lead to creating or
updating policies relevant to the PFT in regards to assisting in creating a greater community structure and
engagement between law enforcement and the citizens. The interview responses collectively addressed the
community request for change around police officer’s trustworthiness and transparency that expose the
legitimacy of their work that can be a possible start to closing the gap in the relationships with the community.
The participants believe initiatives for policy engagement could be done right now and moving forward that
can embark on social change that could positively impact the victims’ families and the community.
P7: So I think TPD is on the right track now. Could they do more? Of course, they can, but something
is always better than nothing. Right. So, I applaud them for what they have already started.
P8: Better…but more need to be done…just not enough.
P9: More need to be done…they are attempting to do more but not enough is being done…not sure
how long this will last.
The data from the articles analyzed also revealed the same feedback on positive social change the participants
had suggested. Their responses reflected a simple request to just have a better line of communication in place
that is inclusive of everyone. Overall, this study’s implications for positive social change be implemented in
Topeka but also be applied throughout Kansas and across state borders with many entities at the table. This
phenomenon engages multiple people to be at the table from all ethnical backgrounds and disciplines.
This study offers a myriad of possible future recommendations that can extend research for similar topics that
I have explored and researched on police BWC’s delayed video release. Further studies that can be employed
around police body worn camera policies and communication are: how does the release of police body worn
camera video of youth under 18 that are apprehended affect parents? When officers immediately review BWC
video, how is the officer’s written report influences? Future research on police and community
communication around policy change from victim’s perspective could reveal more positive social change that
can also increase police and community relationships.
Communication, policy change and community policing are only a few contributions that have been
Bush, 2020
Journal of Social Change 14
earmarked for future research around the phenomenon of police body worn. Several other factors from the
results produced some possible topics for future research that came from several of the code words and
themes identified, including transparency, trustworthiness, hiding, and more. One major area that the
research did not reveal was the impact children endure. Children are being recorded and parents are not being
notified that there is footage of their underage youth stored in a database. Future research can also explore
police legitimacy in respect to the ethics of their work concerning whether officers should have an opportunity
to write/rewrite their report after reviewing BWC video.
Lastly, a future study for this specific topic could applying a quantitive approach, looking at how it takes a
community to become unraveled, irritated, and lose more trust (days, hours, etc) when video is not released.
BWCs continue to gain national attention whether from lack of policies or lack of communication on their use.
The lack of communication contributes to the distrust that families and the community have towards law
enforcement that drives a gap in community police relationships that is triggered by police transparency, their
trust, and the legitimacy of their work. Furthermore, this study utilized the PFT to show how communication
can be implemented and started with law enforcement and the community. This process that has been
established can restore past and current relationships to build effective strategies that engage everyone to
review polices, discuss new polices, and explore new ideas that can be diffused and later adopted. This could
decrease community uproar when events occur where policies must be reinforced. The research was
developed with to illuminate the feelings and concerns that immediate family and community members had
around policies that are inconsistent around the country where each law enforcement agency implemented
their own policy to when video from BWC will be released. Through triangulation from the participant
responses and news articles it was discovered that the families who were directly impacted and the
community whom was indirectly impacted along with the comments from the articles (family members and
community supports) all believed the following: there should be no delay of video from police body worn
cameras, family should have a say in the release, and polices should be uniform and consistent among law
enforcement in the country. The findings confirm the perceptions the families and communities have towards
police officers when BWC footage is delayed.
Bush, 2020
Journal of Social Change 15
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Bernard, K. (2017, November 14). Protesters call for more transparency in LPD investigation of Topeka
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Duck, W. (2017) The Complex dynamics of trust and legitimacy: Understanding interactions between the
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Farmer, A. K. (2016). Copwatchers: Citizen journalism and the changing police-community dynamic
[Dissertation]. University of Delaware.
Hall, G. (2015, November 20) Laquan McDonald’s family does not want police shooting video released.
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multiple case study (Dissertation). ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1965399982).
Hinkel, D. (2017, April 10). City delays release of police shooting video despite 90-day policy. Chicago
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Journal of Social Change 16
Lueders, B (2017, January 3) Your Right to Know: Public’s trust was abused over police videos. Wisconsin
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time since video release. NBC Chicago.
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Journal of Social Change 17
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The Journal of Social Change, sponsored by Walden University, welcomes
manuscripts focusing on interdisciplinary research in social change that
improves the human condition and moves people, groups, organizations,
cultures, and society toward a more positive future.
This chapter addresses the voices of Black individuals and their communities urging police officers to be trustworthy and transparent, and urging them to be intentional in building relationships in the Black community. Qualified immunity, fraternal order of police, and law enforcement bill of rights discussions have emerged from recent incidents that add to the Black community's mistrust in the police. This chapter discusses how officers fail to recognize past and current issues where officers are unapologetic, and which, in turn, contributes to making it difficult to see police transparency and legitimacy. The chapter also addresses the partial education officers receive on Black culture and, more importantly, officers' lack of knowledge about cultural humility with self-reflection. Global positive social change and using a conceptual communication framework are the foundation for building and strengthening police relationships in the Black community to improve police strategies.
Full-text available
Minorities are overrepresented in the criminal justice system, and prior research has indicated ethnic minorities and Whites have different opinions of and different experiences within the system. While differences have been shown, the influence of ethnic identity on perceptions of the legal system has been overlooked. The purpose of the present research was to determine if there were differences in perceptions of the legal system by ethnic identity levels for ethnic minorities and Whites. Results indicated differences do exist and ethnic identity is a crucial issue in understanding resonance with the legal system. Future directions for incorporating ethnic identity in research on the criminal justice system are discussed.
Full-text available
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to differentiate clearly between three frequently used concepts found in the research literature on public perceptions of the police: confidence in the police, satisfaction with the police and trust in the police. Design/methodology/approach – Systemic literature review and thematic analysis are employed to assess each key term in the official English language dictionary and in the research literature. Their individual origins, their evolvement and their current usages are examined with great care. Findings – The findings of the study suggest that the three phrases are indeed distinct in their connotation. It is concluded that “confidence in the police” is the preferred choice when we survey the citizenry about the level of support for the police and when the police is evaluated as a political institution. Practical implications – Given that most criminologists believe that we are doing scientific research, it is our duty to be attentive to the pitfalls of lack of conceptual clarity. Originality/value – The essay advances the conceptual clarification of one of the popular themes in the study of the police.
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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.
Body-mounted cameras are being used by law enforcement with increasing frequency throughout the United States, with calls from government leaders and advocacy groups to further increase their integration with routine police practices. As the technology becomes more common in availability and use, however, concerns grow as to how more-frequent and more personal video recording affects privacy interests, as well as how policies can both protect privacy and fulfill the promise of increased official oversight. This Note advocates for a privacy-centric approach to body camera policy-making, positing that such a framework will best serve the public's multifaceted privacy interests without compromising the ability of body cameras to monitor law-enforcement misconduct. Part I surveys the existing technology and commonplace views of privacy and accountability. Part II examines the unique privacy risks imposed by the technology as well as the countervailing potential for privacy enhancement, demonstrating the value of an approach oriented around privacy interests. Part III assesses how the failure to adopt this approach has resulted in storage policies for body camera footage that inhibit the technology's ability to best serve the public and suggests that a privacy-centric perspective can lead to better policy making. Finally, Part IV examines the flaws of prevailing views with respect to policies for accessing footage and discusses how a revised privacy centric perspective could lead to better policies.
This article demonstrates how various forms of surveillance can lead to coping strategies that are corrosive of trust and legitimacy between black neighborhood residents and law enforcement. This article introduces the coping strategy of submissive civility as a method of self-preservation enacted in social situations where power relations are asymmetrical and the dominant party can administer sanctions. Reporting on an ethnographic study of residents’ interactions with police and other agents of surveillance, this article surveys a range of problems that residents face as they try to meet conflicting demands while avoiding sanctions. The analysis shows that issues of trust, legitimacy, and the discretionary authority of police and other outsiders in the neighborhood pervade these interactions. Further, the analysis highlights the complex ways in which family dynamics, unemployment, debt, and drug dealing intersect with the activities of law enforcement and the threat of imprisonment that is woven into the fabric of residents’ lives. © 2017, © 2017 by The American Academy of Political and Social Science.
This article asks if an ?air of injustice,? created by the disproportionate (and often negative) encounters with police in African American communities, leads to violence? An integrated theoretical model drawing upon social disorganization, collective efficacy, and macro strain theories as well as the recent theory of African American offending, is presented as a new theory of violence in African American communities. The primary tenants are then assessed with the community survey of the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods. Findings support the integrated model and significance of an ?air of injustice? as an additional predictor of neighborhood violence beyond community characteristics and social conditions, particularly for African American communities. Theoretical and empirical implications are discussed.
Citizen police academies (CPAs) are popular programs developed by police departments with the twin goals of educating the public about law enforcement and improving police-community relationships. Citizen police academies can help law enforcement agencies by providing them with graduates who may support police departments through volunteering, crime reporting, advocacy, and crime prevention. CPAs may aid citizens by providing them with opportunities to work with the police to make their communities safer. During the course of the citizen police academy, not only will participants have opportunities to learn more about the police depar'tment and their communities, but they may be given opportunities to patrol with police officers, solve mock crime scenes, or attend moot court. This study examines citizen police academies in Tennessee and provides an exploratory investigation of the programs and its participants. Data obtained from 31 police departments indicate CPA programs with more than a 20 year history in Tennessee. Results of a pretest and posttest of 4 citizen police academies’ participants found that attending these programs significantly and positively changed participants’ familiarity with the police chief, local law enforcement, community crime, and the criminal justice system.