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Advancements like drones, virtual reality training, and other hardware-based technologies are said to be “revolutionizing” policing, giving law enforcement leaders a vast array of tools to confront rising crime rates and public demands for action. Useful as these tools are, they cannot inform policy decisions or point to improvements in personnel management strategies –measures that show the greatest potential in positively impacting public trust and the effectiveness of police operations as a whole. The emerging field of data science, however, has the capability to move the needle on some of these “big picture” problems.

Without intentional and research-based data collection and analysis practices, policing leaders are effectively flying blind when shaping policies and allocating resources within their agencies. Just as troubling, they may miss out on substantial cost-savings that often come with an investment in their data science capabilities. This article looks at the basics of data science in law enforcement and its potential to guide meaningful and positive changes in law enforcement.

What is Data Science?

Data science is a relatively new technical field, with the term only coming into common usage in the last 25 years. Though those in the field still debate some of the finer points of what encompasses data science, Amazon Web Services (AWS), a global leader in cloud computing, defines it in the following way.

“Data science is the study of data to extract meaningful insights for business. It is a multidisciplinary approach that combines principles and practices from the fields of mathematics, statistics, artificial intelligence, and computer engineering to analyze large amounts of data. This analysis helps data scientists to ask and answer questions like what happened, why it happened, what will happen, and what can be done with the results.”

Many in the field differentiate data science from statistics because it focuses on questions and problems unique to the digital age. Essential to this definition is the notion that data science is not a singular pursuit but, instead, a set of intersecting skill sets and techniques used to study a problem. Crucially, data scientists in fields like law enforcement and public policy use these insights to craft evidence-based solutions to these problems.

Crime Side Advances

Tracking largely with the personal computer revolution of the 1980s – which brought computing and data processing out of university labs and into homes and smaller offices – data science found an immediate use-case in policing.

COMPSTAT is one of the earliest and most recognizable examples of the use of data science methodology in law enforcement. Pioneered in the NYPD in the early 1990s, COMPSTAT incorporated crime mapping and trend analysis and was thought to have significantly impacted crime rates in cities that have adopted the practice.

Building on the fundamentals of COMPSTAT, a new generation of predictive analytics shows impressive potential as a crime-fighting tool – with substantial cost-savings as well. According to the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), predictive analytics build on established policing strategies while leveraging growing data sources to inform newer, proactive tactics. It also offers substantial cost-savings, enabling policing leaders to deploy their resources more efficiently and, ultimately, effectively.

Informing Policy and Personnel Management

In addition to its demonstrated success in field operations, data science also has a vital role on law enforcement’s administrative side. The 2015 final report from The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing emphasized the importance of data collection and analysis, stating, “(A) lack of relevant data impacts the ability of communities and law enforcement agencies to make informed policy and practice adjustments based on good information.” The report called for enhanced data collection efforts as a means to increase transparency and accountability – ultimately in service of improving public trust in policing.

Accurate and reliable data is crucial to modern law enforcement personnel management strategies. For instance, early intervention systems rely on this data for predictive analysis, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. False negatives derived from faulty analysis are potentially costly, contributing to an agency’s exposure to the risk of a lawsuit or civil rights claim.

In building First Sign®, Benchmark’s data scientists and engineers leverage the power of the world’s largest multi-jurisdictional officer performance database while incorporating iterative learning that uses cumulative analytics to get “smarter” and more efficient over time. This technology gives supervisors a more holistic picture of an officer’s performance, especially relative to others, and enables them to engage in more targeted and meaningful interventions.

Finally, the use of data science in personnel management has the potential for substantial cost savings. According to a recent paper published by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard, every one dollar of the cost associated with data analytics can return up to nine dollars in value to agencies. At a time of economic uncertainty when municipal budgets are strained, the cost-savings inherent in a data-informed personnel management strategy cannot be ignored.

Looking Ahead

At Benchmark Analytics, our purpose is guided by data science and evidence-based analysis. We specialize in public safety personnel management – it is our area of unique expertise. When we gather and analyze data sets, we use the product of that work for personnel management, professional standards, and early intervention. Taking this a step further, we work in partnership with our academic research consortium and use this data to contribute to a broader understanding of policing for the public good.

Incorporating data science more thoroughly into law enforcement operations allows law enforcement leaders to make smart and more cost-effective decisions, from personnel decisions to deploying resources in the field. Benchmark Analytics is proud to be on the leading edge of using data science to produce better policing outcomes while improving community relations.

As 2022 winds down, the challenges agencies face in recruiting and retaining officers remain an urgent issue for law enforcement leaders. Macroeconomic factors such as generational shifts and changing expectations of work in general, combined with the unique pressures of recruiting and retaining high-performing officers, contribute to severe staffing shortfalls in law enforcement.

Recruiting and RetentionWith violent crime rates on the rise, recruitment and retention rank among the top issues for law enforcement leaders – so much so that the upcoming IACP Conference in Dallas is scheduled to have numerous experts speaking on the subject with discussions exploring topics like the impacts of workplace culture and leadership development programs, to list just a few. The shortfalls have become so severe that five-figure signing bonuses are now typical across the country. Underscoring the crisis further, some jurisdictions are even considering hiring non-sworn civilians to handle non-emergency calls.

In this article, we’ll look at the root causes contributing to the staffing crisis while examining how a fresh approach to recruiting and an emphasis on data and analytics to understand what’s working can move the needle when confronting shortfalls.

What’s Causing Recruitment and Staffing Shortfalls?

The most recent research from the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) speaks to the magnitude of recruitment shortfalls. From April 2020 to March 2021, resignations rose by 18%, while retirements jumped an impressive 45%. Adding to the urgency created by staffing shortages, these statistics show how large agencies (500+ sworn officers) are likely feeling the effects more intensely than smaller departments. The report showed that “large” agencies faced a 36% reduction in recruitment numbers over the same period.

Understanding the magnitude of the problem is generally easier than understanding the underlying factors contributing to it. The COVID-19 global pandemic has upended and realigned industries throughout the country, including law enforcement. Making its way into headlines is the notion of a Great Resignation and so-called “quiet quitting”,  which are both characterized by workers reprioritizing work-life balance and seeking higher wages in a job seeker’s market, the likes of which have not been experienced in at least a generation. Though there’s evidence this wave of resignations may have hit its peak in 2021, the ripple effects continue to contribute to major staffing shortfalls across the country – especially in law enforcement.

The issues driving this wave of resignations – working hours, conditions, and compensation – are particularly prevalent in law enforcement. Shiftwork is especially difficult for law enforcement officers where inconsistent scheduling and unpredictable overtime can create acute problems for an officer’s health and wellness. The national average annual pay for law enforcement officers remains above the salary of the average American worker. This is not always true in some parts of the country, especially those with booming technology sectors. The draw of higher-paying and less-dangerous work puts law enforcement at an inherent disadvantage regarding recruitment.

Lastly, public perception of police and policing strategies creates barriers to more robust recruiting across the profession. The Pew Research Center conducts longitudinal research on public perception of law enforcement and has charted notable declines in survey participants’ views on how police treat the public and how effectively investigators pursue misconduct cases. The results of these surveys tend to be most visible along with race and political lines though there’s been some softening of positive views across the board. These broader cultural attitudes create an issue for recruiters where a sociological concept known as social desirability bias — the desire to present one’s attitudes, behaviors, and occupation in a positive light – steers potential recruits away from a profession with a perceived negative social stigma attached to it.

Gender Parity in Recruiting

For as long as women have been working in the law enforcement field, social scientists and academics have taken a keen interest in designing research to help us better understand what they bring to the job and how they compare to their male counterparts. Studies have confirmed intuitions about unique skills women bring to their agencies and communities as well as cast serious doubts on outdated assumptions surrounding their capabilities and job performance.

Social scientists and researchers have studied the impacts of a gender-diverse police force since the 1970s. A landmark study in 1987 and many subsequent studies have contributed to the strong argument that diverse police forces benefit the communities they serve.

Research suggests female officers are less likely to be involved in incidents involving excessive use of force than their male counterparts. Though a correlation has not been conclusively established, women also tend to show, on average, more advanced interpersonal communication skills, which suggests they may be more likely to practice de-escalation tactics, further reducing the incidence of excessive force.

Women officers tend to be highly skilled at addressing crimes involving violence against women and sex crimes. Sexual assault is a sensitive issue, and it is thought that more significant numbers of female officers may help break down some of the barriers to reporting such crimes. Studies have shown a correlation between increased female representation in police forces and declines in intimate partner murder rates and rates of repeated domestic abuse, as well as higher clearance rates in these cases.

Making Data Work

From simplifying the paper shuffling of applications and background checks to generating actionable insights from candidate pools, data has the power to make a measurable impact on recruiting efforts. It also contributes to substantial cost savings. According to a recent paper published by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard, every one dollar of the cost associated with data analytics has the potential to return up to nine dollars in value to agencies.

From a practical standpoint, data analysis can be a catalyst for improvements across the recruitment process. A 2018 survey indicated that 30% of law enforcement professionals simply did not know how effective their recruitment strategies were. Through data analysis, law enforcement leaders can take a step-by-step look at their recruitment programs by isolating and testing various aspects of their policies and making improvements guided by these insights.

The San Jose Police Department demonstrated one example of this granular, data-informed approach to recruitment. Attrition in recruiting is something nearly all departments experience — with many highly motivated applicants already in the pipeline dropping out of the process. Recognizing this missed opportunity through data analysis, the department asked those recruits who had left the process to provide feedback to address any bottlenecks or pain points in the process. In addition to generating data points on why recruits left, the solicitation also invited applicants to reapply. As a result of this experiment, 125 recruits reactivated their applications.

What’s Next?

Recruiting and retention issues in law enforcement aren’t likely to be solved immediately, as the scale and scope of the problem mean it affects agencies of all sizes throughout the country. Evidence points to the value of prioritizing the health and wellness of recruits and existing officers while building a renewed focus on seeking qualified candidates that may not fit the traditional mold of law enforcement officers. It is clear that rigorous analytics, based on data science, is well-spent and can provide law enforcement with the insights they need to maximize the effectiveness of their recruitment and retention efforts.

 

Legislative agendas, shifting policy priorities, and the churn of senior leadership ensure that change is a constant in law enforcement. This is exceptionally true in an era of policing primarily defined by far-reaching reform efforts and a rising crime rate that demands department personnel and leadership are operating at the peak of their capacities.

‘Change management’ is a broad term that encompasses how organizations approach and work through change. Though initially a concept and set of strategies more at home in the corporate world, they offer a blueprint for how agency leaders can cope with policy changes. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to change management, this article looks at concepts and strategies that have been shown to produce positive outcomes in the face of change.

What is Change Management?

In the business world, the primary goal of change management is to successfully implement new processes, products, and business strategies while minimizing adverse outcomes for the organization as a whole. Research paints a stark picture of the need for effective change management strategies, showing that some 70% of change-based initiatives ultimately fail.

The discipline of change management originated in the 1980s, corresponding with a period of substantial shifts in corporate culture. Once on the periphery of academic theory, it became a commonly adopted set of strategies in the 2000s, with managers and executives realizing the need to stay nimble in a dynamic business world.

While different schools of thought practice somewhat different strategies, the Society of Human Resources Managers identifies Harvard Business Professor John Kotter’s methodology as one of the most widely adopted; its key points include:

  • Creating a sense of urgency and building a guiding coalition of employees trusted by their peers.
  • Forming a strategic vision that’s imaginable, feasible, focused, and easily understood and enlisting a “volunteer army” to aid in communicating this vision to their peers.
  • Enabling action by removing barriers – inflexible structures, processes, or a lack of knowledge – and looking for short-term wins that keep the momentum moving forward.
  • Sustaining acceleration by building on short-term success and, when needed, revising smaller goals to realign with the organization’s broader goals. Change is finally instituted by linking the norms of group behavior with the organization’s shared values.

Unique Challenges in Law Enforcement

Corporate strategies offer a sound basis for understanding change management in policing – they’re widely tested across different fields and subject to academic review and rigorous debate. However, law enforcement poses a set of distinct needs and challenges that require a more specialized approach than in the corporate world.

Many corporate strategies emphasize taking the time to “get things right”. In law enforcement when working towards compliance with consent decrees or new reform-oriented legislation, that timeline for change is often set externally. Furthermore, policing as an institution can be resistant to change partly due to the rigid command structure inherent in its traditions. It is well-understood in most departments that change comes from the top down, leaving implementation and, ultimately, success to the lower ranks.

Managing Organizational Stress

Policing is known to be a stressful profession, with as many as 85% of officers reporting high stress levels as a result of their work. These elevated stress levels are considered significant contributors to the rapid rise in resignations and retirements driving the staffing crisis in the profession. They also can have a profound effect on officers’ health, contributing to fatigue, mental health issues, and suicide.

There are two categories of stress officers experience in the profession. The inherent stress of the job is relatively straightforward and encompasses the danger officers face as well as the psychological effects of dealing with crime scenes and victims, for example. Organizational stress is more complex and refers to the stress officers face navigating the administrative side of their work – command structure, salary concerns, internal affairs, and, notably, policy changes. Research has shown organizational stressors have a total effect on stress levels 6.3 times greater than the inherent stressors of the work.

Change Management Strategies

To equip officers for organizational shifts coming as the result of legislative policy changes, consent decrees, and leadership turnover, the fundamentals of corporate change management strategy can be adopted with an emphasis on supporting officers through the changes. As discussed in a recent article in Police Chief Magazine, preparing officers for shifts in policy by emphasizing agency culture and resiliency shows promise for success as an effective change management strategy.

In law enforcement, leaders typically serve an elected mayor and simply do not have all of the change management strategies available in the corporate world. Understanding that “…organizationally based stresses negatively affect police officers and are predictors of depression, anxiety, and traumatic stress symptoms,” the author proposes three main areas of interest for police leaders to build resiliency to change.

  1. Supportive leadership that can “engage in identifying and mitigating organizational and operational stressors.” Leadership that listens and actively responds to their officers is vital to any change management strategy.
  2. Education-based disciplinary programs wherein officers acting outside of policy are not necessarily penalized for relatively minor infractions but instead offered opportunities to participate in training or other alternative programs.
  3. A focus on mental and physical health that seeks to mitigate the effects of change-based stress. The correlation between physical and mental health is well documented, and programs that build physical health are shown to impact overall wellness. Additionally, mental health support staff and peer support programs have demonstrated great success in reducing stress levels and promoting resiliency.

Law enforcement is a constantly changing profession. Whether it is the adoption of new technologies, new policies enacted by elected officials, or the shifts in direction from new leadership – change is indeed a constant in policing, and it will never be “easy.” Law enforcement leaders that take what works from the corporate world and thoughtfully apply it to the unique needs of policing can be setting their agencies on the right path to effective change management.

In 2022 the United States finds itself at a crossroads with policing. Crime rates are spiking while clearance rates for murders and other major crimes are lagging. Police departments across the country are struggling to recruit and retain officers, further compounding the problem and adding urgency to calls for evidence-based and effective law enforcement recruitment strategies.

The scale of this problem confronting law enforcement requires resources and, importantly, a willingness to try new ideas. Among the most promising new ideas are those based on data and controlled experimentation – providing a blueprint for departments across the country to fine-tune to meet their unique needs.

What follows are initiatives and fresh ideas producing the positive results needed to ‘meet the moment’ in policing.

Legislative Action

First and foremost, agencies need more resources to attract and retain the best candidates and officers. Put simply: inflation is contributing to an urgent need to grow salaries and benefits to compete with the private sector for the best talent.

One such example is the Pathways to Policing Act. Introduced this May into the U.S. House of Representatives by a broadly bipartisan group of members of Congress, this bill seeks to provide $100M of funding for national and state-level recruitment initiatives. It has already been endorsed by the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA) along with several state-level professional organizations and newspaper editorial boards.

The federal funding bill is partly based on the success of a joint program (also called Pathways to Policing) in Minnesota between Bloomington, St. Louis Park, and other police departments. The program’s goal is to attract nontraditional candidates to policing by addressing some of the barriers to their participation with assistance such as tuition stipends, on-the-job training running concurrently with coursework, and pay while completing training.

Growing Grant Resources

In addition to funding from specific legislative actions, the Department of Justice (DOJ) plays a major role in disbursing funds to law enforcement, often signaling the priorities of the current administration and agency leadership. In late 2021, DOJ announced $139M in grants available to “enable law enforcement agencies across the country to hire more than 1,000 additional officers to support vitally important community-oriented policing programs.”

Furthermore, as of this writing (July 2022), applications for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program have just opened. Grant awards can be designated for recruitment and retention efforts, among other community-based policing programs. Grant applications are due in early August (the due date varies by application method) and will be awarded this October.

Residency Requirements

While greater funding resources are a top priority of virtually every law enforcement executive, leaders have found success with low-to-no-cost tactics that can reduce the barriers to recruitment while still maintaining high standards.

Residency requirements are frequently a condition of employment in many law enforcement agencies. These requirements are often a sensitive subject, with valid arguments both for and against establishing such requirements. Several cities and counties are revisiting these requirements, while cities like Kansas City (MO) have eliminated the requirement altogether to help with recruiting and retention.

A New Look

Other departments are revisiting uniform and appearance standards as a means to adapt to changing cultural norms as well as attract candidates that are more representative of the communities they serve. Bakersfield, California has an Indian Sikh community of more than 35,000 residents but had no Indian officers until the early 2000s. Recently, the department has reexamined rules concerning facial hair – finding that the beards that Sikh men typically wear as a part of their religious tradition “had no impact on whether or not they could do their job [as police officers].”

Similarly, departments are reevaluating tattoo policies. Approximately 30% of Americans now have at least one tattoo, up from 21% just ten years ago. That figure rises to 40% for those ages 18-34. With this shift in cultural norms, especially among younger candidates, agencies like Springfield (MO) Police Department are loosening outright bans on visible tattoos to open doors to the profession and increase the pool of qualified candidates.

Making Data Work

From simplifying the paper-shuffling of applications and background checks to generating actionable insights from candidate pools, data has the power to make a measurable impact on recruiting efforts. It also contributes to substantial cost savings. According to a recent paper published by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard, every one dollar of the cost associated with data analytics has the potential to return up to nine dollars in value to agencies.

From a practical standpoint, data analysis can be a catalyst for improvements across the recruitment process. A 2018 survey indicated that 30% of law enforcement professionals simply did not know how effective their recruitment strategies were. Through data analysis, law enforcement leaders can take a step-by-step look at their recruitment programs by isolating and testing various aspects of their policies and make improvements guided by these insights.

The San Jose Police Department demonstrated one example of this granular, data-informed approach to recruitment. Attrition in recruiting is something nearly all departments experience — with many highly motivated applicants already in the pipeline dropping out of the process. Recognizing this missed opportunity through data analysis, the department asked those recruits who had left the process to provide feedback to address any bottlenecks or pain points in the process. In addition to generating data points on why recruits left, the solicitation also invited applicants to reapply. As a result of this experiment, 125 recruits reactivated their applications.

Exploring New Recruitment Strategies

While recruitment has been a perennial challenge for law enforcement, rising crime and image issues have only amplified the problem and contributed to the urgency with which policing leaders must address it. While what works in one department may not consistently achieve the same results in another, a willingness to explore novel ideas and follow data insights shows excellent promise in confronting the recruiting crisis.

Law enforcement personnel management is hard to get right – and a new era of police reform has amplified those challenges with increased attention from lawmakers and the public demanding accountability. Benchmark Analytics is a specialist in police personnel management technology with a proven track record of advancing Professional Standards, Accountability, and Transparency for law enforcement agencies.

When confronting these challenges, don’t trust your critical data management to companies that specialize in weapons, cameras, CAD or RMS systems. At Benchmark, we understand that the crime side of the profession is completely different from the personnel management side. Specialization in professional standards matters – and requires a focused approach.

Our Specialized and Unique Legacy

Benchmark Analytics was founded by a group of dedicated professionals with decades of experience in law enforcement professional standards. We know how to harness the power of data and analytics in advancing officer management and administration – and we’ve built a blueprint for meeting the needs of leadership stakeholders.

Our personnel management software:

  • Supports agencies that are seeking accreditation through CALEA and state accreditation bodies.
  • Incorporates IACP best practices and ethics tool kit recommendations.
  • Aligns with Department of Justice officer conduct guidelines.

We care about officer well-being, and our systems are centered on improving officer performance. To do so takes research, time, and focus. Our ongoing commitment to research that supports officer performance and wellness is reflected in our Research Consortium, which contributes to the body of knowledge that supports officers.

With this focus on officer performance and well-being as a guiding principle of our work, we would never house offender or criminal data in the same systems as police personnel information and possibly career-altering Internal Affairs data. They are not the same and should never be treated as such. As specialists in law enforcement personnel management, we understand the distinction.

The Difference is Clear

Don’t risk trusting someone to deliver on your personnel management needs when it falls outside their area of expertise. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • They sell non-lethal weapons, body-worn cameras, CAD and RMS systems, and VR training; we specialize in IA, UoF, and other personnel data capture and tracking
  • They overpromise in diverse offerings; we deliver a singular focus
  • Personnel management software is simply ancillary for them, just another pursuit – for us, it is a mission and a calling.

Why It Matters to Partner with a Personnel Management Specialist 

We Get Internal Affairs

Internal Affairs case management is often a layered, lengthy, and complex process – plenty can go wrong with severe consequences for your officers and the public’s trust in your agency’s accountability and transparency.

Internal Affairs management involves the diverse needs of personnel, leadership, policymakers, and public stakeholders – and the decisions made about Internal Affairs can profoundly impact public and internal trust. The right Internal Affairs system promotes transparency and provides for a fair process for all involved. Simply, we know the difference a good Internal Affairs system can make.

Our IA Case management platform within the Benchmark Management System® (BMS):

  • Facilitates allegation intake, investigation, and evidence management
  • Streamlines and manages chain of command review, approvals, and reporting
  • Ensures officers under allegation receive timely notification of findings and recommended actions
  • Supports an unlimited amount of roles and permissions
  • AND, importantly, is a platform protected and separated from offender and other data that does not belong in a system focused on improving the performance of those officers in your trust

We Understand the Importance of Use of Force Data Analysis

Use of Force incidents were the catalyst for this modern era of police reform. For departments to effectively track these incidents, they need a system that is easy to use, intuitive, and comprehensive. For the data collected to be actionable, from a policy or personnel perspective, it must be accurate with sophisticated reporting tools.

Good data capture means the difference between success and failure in meeting reform mandates – don’t leave such a critical element of personnel management to a company that’s out of its depth. Through our extensive experience, we know failure is not an option.

Our Use of Force platform within BMS:

  • Documents all Use of Force incidents, including vehicle pursuits and traffic crashes
  • Guides an officer through all important issues necessary for thorough documentation
  • Creates a detailed description of an incident, with narrative reports and subject statements
  • Supports an unlimited amount of roles and permissions
  • AND, unlike with other providers, is an independent, verifiable report that may be integrated with – but is not comingled with – other criminal data or evidence

We Consider the Impact of Collective Bargaining Agreements

An agency’s collective bargaining agreement can drive certain types of data collection and personnel policies – from consistency and objectivity of review to recommended courses of action for misconduct.

When policies change due to a collective bargaining agreement, law enforcement leaders are accountable for implementing those changes. Policy changes require verifiable proof that they’re working – the outcome is critical.

At Benchmark, we have direct experience with CBAs from both the personnel and leadership perspectives – and we’ve seen firsthand and up close their impact on policies and procedures.

That’s why our solutions are customizable and configurable to existing agreements – and adaptable to changing conditions and CBA requirements. We care to get this right.

We Accommodate Changing Policies and Desired Outcomes

Data is the measure of outcomes – the proof that new policies as a result of local, state, and federal legislation are being implemented. Our data-driven platforms are scalable and configurable to address your agency’s specific requirements, policies, and goals.

When policies change, leaders are accountable for implementing those changes. Demonstrable proof is required to show that they’re working and that critical outcomes are being achieved. The public demands transparency – evidence that new policies are being successfully implemented.

At the state and federal level, access to grants is expanding, provided much-needed resources to law enforcement agencies. However, to fulfill the requirements of these grants, careful and accurate reporting of outcomes is critical to measure success. Accurate data also informs public policy that impacts policing – and the availability of future grant funding.

We’re data scientists with law enforcement experience. We have the background and expertise to help your organization evolve – we’ve built our systems with that rigorous approach to data in mind.

A Difference that Matters

We are in a transformational era of policing – and our experience in law enforcement gives us an innate understanding of the moment. Though data is driving some of this change, people with the right experience and vision ultimately make the difference. Do you want to leave all this in the hands of a company whose specialty is weapons, body cams, and CAD systems?

Among our peers, we specialize in law enforcement personnel management with a uniquely intense focus. Through our research consortium, we bring new research that matters in supporting officer wellness. We know how vital that is to achieve the goals of transparency and accountability.

At Benchmark, we’re making an impactful difference with agencies of all sizes across the U.S. at the municipal, county, and state levels — we’re prepared to help you, too.

 

 

On May 25, 2022, President Joe Biden issued an executive order to address many of the issues that have been a part of the national police reform discourse over the past two years. The order, formally titled Executive Order on Advancing Effective, Accountable Policing, and Criminal Justice Practices to Enhance Public Trust and Public Safety, takes action on reform measures at the federal level, where attempts at more sweeping legislation have been paused since late last year.

Executive OrderWhile the text of the order is lengthy, the subject matter and policy priorities reflected in it should not surprise those following the progress of police reform legislation across the country. Much like state-level reform efforts, the order seeks to build public trust through transparency and accountability while acknowledging that law enforcement officers are “frequently call[ed] upon… to respond to social problems outside their expertise and beyond their intended role, diverting attention from their critical public safety mission and increasing the risks of an already dangerous job”.

At Benchmark Analytics, we carefully track executive orders and law enforcement legislation at all levels of government. What follows is a breakdown of what is in the executive order, what’s not, and, most importantly, what the executive order on police reform means for law enforcement leaders and officers.

Federal Policy Changes

Executive orders are a powerful tool for a president, allowing them to bypass the legislative process to enact policy quickly. However, they are also, by definition, limited in scope. The more immediate policy changes required by the executive order primarily affect federal law enforcement agencies. These policy changes impact the following areas:

  • Use of Force: By November of 2022, the heads of federal law enforcement agencies will be required to submit use of force data to the FBI National Use-of-Force Data Collection database on a monthly basis. Furthermore, federal law enforcement agencies under the Department of Justice (DOJ) are required to align policies and training to a 2021 DOJ policy that generally prohibits the use of neck restraint.
  • Internal Affairs: The heads of federal law enforcement agencies are required to develop and implement evidence-based training programs for officers concerning implicit bias and profiling. The executive goes a step further in mandating the agency leaders establish procedures for “receiving, investigating, and responding meaningfully to complaints alleging improper profiling or bias by Federal law enforcement officers”.  The order establishes both a standard by which officers are trained and, crucially, an accountability mechanism in creating a formalized internal affairs process for investigating and resolving misconduct allegations.
  • Training: The Director of the Office of Personnel Management and the Attorney General is tasked with developing an anti-bias training module for federal law enforcement agencies, covering “implicit bias and avoiding improper profiling based on the actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, limited English proficiency, religion, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), or disability of individuals.”
  • Federal Database: The Attorney General will establish a National Law Enforcement Accountability Database in early 2023. Disciplinary data, citizen complaints, and decertification data will be included. Federal agencies will be required to report to this database, while state, local, tribal, and territorial agencies will be strongly encouraged to report relevant data.

Local Impacts

Though the immediate policy implications of this executive are, by nature, primarily at the federal level, the order does make efforts to apply these changes to law enforcement as a whole. Limited by the power of executive action, the order seeks to affect these changes through best practice and policy recommendations and use grant funding to encourage state and local departments to adopt the changes outlined in the document. A few key elements of the policy recommendations include:

  • Developing guidance and best practices to strengthen officer recruitment and retention.
  • Identifying needed resources to enact the officer wellness work contained in the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017.
  • Supporting state and local agencies seeking accreditation.
  • Clarifying regulations on agencies seeking military surplus distribution programs.
  • Generally supporting, though grant funding incentives, the adoption of the federal law enforcement standards

A Blueprint for the Future

In the absence of federal reform legislation, this executive order has generally been received as a step in the right direction in addressing issues of transparency and accountability in policing. A press release from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) characterizes the order as “a good faith effort by all involved to reach accord without compromising any core values or issues” while also stating “A broader approach to overall systemic issues needs to be a priority of all elected officials.”

With its input from professional organizations representing officers as well as police chiefs, there’s reason to believe that the action items contained in this executive order have the potential to make an impact on both law enforcement and the communities that depend on effective and transparent policing.

 

As we approach the mid-way point of 2022, we decided to look back at the year – unpacking some of the reform trends we’ve seen so far and exploring what they may indicate about the future of legislative police reform efforts.

This year’s legislation concerning police reform has, so far, been something of a departure from the previous two years – both in terms of pace and the subject of enacted bills. We’re seeing legislation take a more deliberate path forward after an initial flurry of legislation in 2020 and 2021 tackling hot-button issues like restraint tactics and duty to report. This more deliberate approach is reflected in legislation and funding priorities that emphasize mental health, both in law enforcement and in the larger communities they serve. Additionally, a waning “defund” movement has ceded ground to the notion that police need more resources, not fewer, to fulfill their duty to their communities amid rising crime and greater need.

Deliberate Reform Trends

The pace of reform-oriented legislation has noticeably slowed in 2022. As of this writing, 125 bills have passed in 2022 – compared with 366 In all of 2021. Notably, policy changes required by many of these new laws are comparatively minor as opposed to the sweeping changes seen in policing operations in late 2020 and 2021. With the most urgent public concerns largely addressed in previous legislative sessions, policymakers are turning their focus to some of the more fundamental issues in policing.

A significant portion of state-level legislation enacted in 2022 expands mental health resources for officers and agencies, both in direct support to officers and setting funding priorities for community mental health resources like crisis intervention teams. To replicate the demonstrated success of department-based peer support programs, South Dakota, Louisiana, Texas, and Indiana have passed laws in 2022 that provide funding for these programs. Research shows that peer support is consistently among the most effective tools to help officers with the daily stresses of their work and in processing traumatic incidents that may occur while on patrol.

The ‘Defund’ Question

Many in law enforcement have been closely following the political and cultural debate around “defunding police” that emerged immediately following several high-profile incidents in 2020. The notion that outcomes related to crime and policing could be improved with less funding seems to be on the wane in 2022 amid a rise in crime rates seen in many parts of the country. In fact, in many cases, elected representatives and municipal officials are requesting and approving increased budgets to confront an uptick in crime rates.

Public opinion is certainly a factor in the pushback against reducing law enforcement budgets. A survey from the Pew Research Center showed a swing in public sentiment around police funding in 2020, with a majority of respondents stating police budgets should either remain the same or be reduced. When posing the same question a year later, researchers noted another swing in public opinion, this time with survey results indicating across-the-board increases, in some cases double-digit increases among certain demographic groups, in support of increased police funding.

Adding to the urgency for increasing police budgets to tackle rising crime is a consensus forming around a school of thought that believes reversing rising crime rates is a crucial component in the “return to normal” from the pandemic’s peak. Increased crime rates, especially in urban public transit systems, are thought to be a significant barrier to returning to a pre-pandemic way of life in cities. At the federal level, policymakers are urging state and local governments to devote federal pandemic relief funds to law enforcement.

Revisiting Enacted Laws

Roughly two years from the rush to pass reform legislation, especially laws addressing restraint tactics and reporting, there is an early indication that some of these laws may yet be subject to reconsideration or revision. In March of 2022, the governor of Washington state signed HB 2037, which clarifies that police can use force to stop a subject from fleeing temporary investigative detention. Elsewhere, changing political realities are leading to the expectation that new administrations may revisit other state-level police reform laws. Lastly, legal challenges to state-level police reform levels, such as one recently filed in Colorado. Indicate further challenges to these laws may lay ahead.

While it is difficult to “read the tea leaves” of political change and legal challenges, there is evidence that the push for reform over the last two years will continue to be revisited as experience and research add to the understanding of the effectiveness of these legislative efforts.

Though the pace of reform legislation has slowed compared to previous years, it is a mistake to believe that the reform trends are becoming less impactful. On the contrary, efforts to provide mental health and peer support funding are vital to addressing the root causes of burnout and fatigue among law enforcement officers, contributing to adverse events. Furthermore, there seems to be an early indication that legislators are interested in revisiting previously passed laws to improve them by balancing the need for public safety and trust with officer readiness and effectiveness.

Law enforcement leaders frequently encounter important questions around police accreditation – do we have the time and, importantly, bandwidth to tackle accreditation? Can our agency afford the accreditation process? What are the differences between state and national accreditation?

A new era of police reform has ushered in the return of federal consent decrees and hundreds of legislative and regulatory changes at the state level. Transparency and public accountability drive the narrative around policing and have a substantial influence on the public’s perception of police.  These factors contribute to a new emphasis and add to the urgency for law enforcement leaders to weigh the benefits of accreditation.

What is accreditation?

Law enforcement accreditation is a self-initiated, voluntary process based on standards reflective of best practices in law enforcement. Accreditation standards cover roles and responsibilities; relationships with other agencies; organization, management, administration; law enforcement operations, operational support, traffic law enforcement; detainee and court-related services; and auxiliary and technical services.

What is Accreditation?

Much like accreditation for hospitals and educational institutions, law enforcement accreditation is a self-initiated, voluntary process. It is based on standards reflective of best practices in law enforcement. Accreditation standards cover a department’s roles and responsibilities; relationships with other agencies; organization, management, administration; law enforcement operations, operational support, traffic law enforcement; detainee and court-related services; and auxiliary and technical services.

What is national accreditation?

At the national level, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) administers accreditation for law enforcement agencies. In 1979, a group of the nation’s major law enforcement executive associations created CALEA as the national accreditation authority. CALEA improves public safety services delivery and maintains a body of professional standards that support the administration of accreditation programs. The primary benefits of CALEA accreditation are: controlled liability insurance cost; administrative improvements; greater accountability from supervisors; increased governmental and community support; means for developing or improving upon an agency’s relationship with the community; and facilitation of an agency’s pursuit of professional excellence.

CALEA accreditation is open to all types of law enforcement agencies. They are widely considered “Marks of Professional Excellence,” and case studies have demonstrated benefits for large and small public safety agencies. CALEA accreditation is also available for tribal law enforcement agencies and corrections departments.

Agencies undergoing CALEA accreditation experience a five-phase process:

  1. Enrollment: Agencies enroll in one or more of the CALEA Accreditation programs.
  2. Self-Assessment: Initial self-assessment timeframes can take 24 – 26 months, and according to CALEA, “self-assessment refers to the internal, systematic analysis of an agency’s operations, management and practices to determine if it complies with applicable standards.”
  3. Assessment: The assessment phase ensures standard compliance.
  4. Commission Review Decision: The final credentialing decision is made by the Board of CALEA Commissioners. The Board facilitates a review hearing to discuss the assessment.
  5. Maintaining Accreditation: CALEA accreditation is an on-going quality performance review of an agency. Therefore, reaccreditation is contingent upon the agency’s ability to meet CALEA standards and demonstrate continued compliance.

What is state accreditation?

State accreditation programs are designed to help law enforcement agencies establish and maintain standards that represent current professional law enforcement practices; to increase the effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of law enforcement services; and to establish standards that address and reduce liability for the agency and its members.

According to the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police Law Enforcement Accreditation Program (MLEAC), Michigan agencies seek accreditation for multiple reasons:

  • Accredited status represents a significant professional achievement – a ‘stamp of approval.’
  • Decreased exposure to liability risk and costs
  • Enhanced knowledge of written directives.
  • Broadens officer perspective and experience with nationally accepted best practices.
  • Accreditation requires the agency to ensure provided proofs follow standards and written directives.
  • Supports public confidence in policing

The last item is essential. Efforts at increasing the transparency of operations and policy through accreditation can make a meaningful impact in improving the public’s trust in policing. Maintaining public support is crucial in this contemporary era of rapid movement on reform measures and significant policy changes.

In state-level accreditation programs such as the one offered by MLEAC, achieving accreditation includes a thorough self-analysis to determine how existing operations can be adapted to meet state standards. When procedures and policies are in place, a team of trained state assessors verifies that applicable standards have been successfully implemented.

National vs. State Accreditation — Key Differences

A significant difference between state and national accreditation programs is in the “lift” necessary at the agency level or the work involved in achieving accreditation. Typically, state programs have fewer defined criteria than national accreditation programs.

Key differences in state and national accreditation

For example, as of 2022, MLEAC has 108 standards, while the Texas Police Chiefs Association Foundation Law Enforcement Agency Best Practices Recognition Program (TPCAF Recognition Program) has 170. In comparison, CALEA has approximately 458 standards. Though the standards vary from state to state, it is generally true that accreditation at the national level is a more rigorous and time-intensive process.

In many cases, state accreditation programs for police have a lot of similar themes and overlap with CALEA’s national accreditation requirements — and are written to address issues specific to their state’s regulations. According to the TPCAF Recognition Program site, the program is similar to the national accreditation program but easier to administer and designed with Texas law enforcement agencies in mind. Similarly, Neal A. Rossow, Director of Professional Development/Program Director at MACP, stated, “We designed an accreditation process that any department could afford and could achieve. Our first accredited agency was the Rockford Department of Public Safety with ten officers.”

Because of these two key differences, many agencies use state accreditation as a stepping stone to CALEA accreditation. Simply, it provides the ability to engage in the process without getting overwhelmed by cost or the number of standards present at the national level.

CALEA is an outstanding national accreditation program, as are many state accreditation programs. Whichever accreditation program an agency undertakes, they demonstrate to themselves and the community they serve their commitment to transparency and excellence in law enforcement.

To learn more about police accreditation, take a look at our blog post: Agency Accreditation: What to Consider Before Pursuing it for your Department.

 

Recently, Benchmark CEO Ron Huberman and Steve Brewer of Benchmark Risk Solutions discussed the impacts of reform legislation on the risk in law enforcement. The conversation follows the historical arc of law enforcement in the US, public perception of police, and how risk managers and law enforcement leaders confront these issues. Through the lens of risk management, they explored the efficacy of current policy and procedure changes driven by reform legislation and regulatory changes and their intersection with risk management practices like early intervention, officer wellness initiatives, and their impact on public trust.

This post highlights some of the key themes of the webinar and provides additional context and research findings referenced in the discussion. The entire presentation is available in our Resource Center, a free library of research data and analysis available to the public safety and risk management audience.

Disparities in Perception

Ron Huberman: “In the 1990s, the first well-known police misconduct video of the modern era came to be with Rodney King. All of us likely recall that video and its aftermath. Since the advent of video being readily available [via consumer electronics], these videos have continued to shape public opinion as never before.

Trust in policing has always been massively differentiated among different demographic groups, and there are signs those disparities are growing.”

The reference to the Rodney King incident is especially illuminating and revealed a turning point in public perceptions of policing. The proliferation of handheld recording devices, first portable video cameras and later smartphones, has made it easier for bystanders to record interactions between police and citizens. Coinciding with the rise of cable news earlier and now with social media, millions can see these videos within hours of the incident.

A study at the time showed that, within 30 days of the Rodney King incident, as many as 93% of Los Angeles residents had seen the video on television news. The footage quickly impacted public perception, with groups of white, black, and Latino residents all responding at more than 90% that “police officers used too much force in dealing with King.” When similar survey groups were questioned three years later on their perception of police, a demographic disparity reappeared. Trust in the police rose to levels last noted in 1988, showing a more than ten percentage point gap between white and black respondents.

Evidence suggests this disparity has grown over time. A report from the Pew Research Center points to a correlation between personal experience with police and demographic disparities in perception. Black adults are five times more likely to report being stopped due to their race than white respondents at a rate of 44% versus 9%. Further research has shown past encounters with police as a substantial predictor of perception of police.

Punitive Settlements

Ron Huberman: “One of two fundamental arguments [from plaintiffs’ attorneys] are occurring. One is the ‘wanton and indifferent’, or ‘you weren’t competent and responsible in your governance and didn’t take action where you should have known to do so’. The second is that the police department didn’t know there was this problem or pattern of conduct and – very importantly – that they should have known.

When they’re successful in either of those arguments, we see the general trend in the [risk management marketplace] is that jurors are trying to be highly punitive – given their new societal view of policing.”

The previous section showed that public perception of policing is impacted by media and the availability of videos of alleged or sustained misconduct. In misconduct litigation, the plaintiffs’ attorneys may seek to leverage these shifting perceptions to produce more favorable outcomes and larger settlements for their clients. However, it is essential to note that perception does not always track with reality.

There is indeed observed growth in the cost of misconduct settlements, especially in larger cities. This growth in settlement costs creates strain on municipal budgets and insurance and reinsurance markets. However, the ever-rising costs of settlements do not necessarily indicate that misconduct is more prevalent, despite public perceptions that it is. Data from the University of Chicago revealed that there has been “no apparent increase in the frequency of law enforcement claims, [since 2014]” but that settlement costs have multiplied in the same period. While a causal relationship has not been determined, it is thought that diminished public perception of police likely contributes to these growing settlement amounts despite the number of claims staying relatively flat or even lessening over time.

Mental Health and Wellness

Steve Brewer: “The awareness of the impacts of mental health has led to a lot of programs taking shape and resources being made available, either at the agency level or through third parties. These programs are critical because a growing body of research shows that officers operating at their full capacity – mental, physical, emotional – and as they are trained to do, generally perform well and have a lower risk. Often, where there is a lot of overtime, a lack of sleep, and mental trauma from issues like PTSD that are untreated, it can lead to the escalation of a lot of adverse outcomes.”

Agencies have an ethical obligation to support and enhance their officer’s mental, emotional, and physical wellness. Beyond that, an officer experiencing issues with their health and readiness is a knowable risk factor in policing. In one study, 56% of officers surveyed experienced burnout with their job, which contributed to feelings of callousness towards their work and the public. Other studies have shown that as many as 15% of officers experience post-traumatic stress disorder in their careers, which affects decision-making, sleep patterns, susceptibility to drug and alcohol abuse, and emotional responses. These factors potentially contribute to the likelihood of an officer engaging in behavior that could harm themselves, their career, and their agency’s standing in the community.

Evidence-based wellness programming is the right thing to do for officers’ health, but it can also improve outcomes and help curb the risk of claims and litigation. Case studies have shown the efficacy of wellness programming and intervention in law enforcement. Peer support has been an incredibly effective means of enhancing wellness and boosting officer performance, with approximately 90% of officers surveyed reporting they would recommend peer support to a colleague.

The focus on wellness needs to be holistic, incorporating many intersecting facets of wellness. For instance, a lack of sleep can contribute to higher instances of vehicle collisions, which carry both risks of injury and claims, and compassion fatigue, which can accelerate symptoms of burnout. Programs promoting physical fitness are shown to reduce on-the-job injuries by as much as 40%, which has the potential to reduce compensable injuries and short-staffing due to recovery and rehabilitation after such injuries. Furthermore, in encounters requiring the use of force, a higher level of physical fitness among officers may reduce the probability of excessive force leading to death or injury and subsequent litigation involving both the subject and the officer.

What is knowable?

Steve Brewer: “I’m going to pose a question: what percentage of adverse events in policing are predictable? Take a guess.

Our research finds that the number is between 50% and 65%. Between a half and two-thirds of events in policing today follow a pattern of observable behavior. The research showed and validated that it is incredibly knowable.”

The keyword here is “knowable.” Early intervention can help guard against claims that arise when the plaintiff’s attorney can show that an agency should have known there was a problem and failed to act. State-of-the-art data aggregation and analysis are necessary to attain this high level of predictability in a data model. Less effective analysis, typically seen in informal or threshold-based early intervention, is unlikely to achieve the level of predictive performance that First Sign® Early Intervention delivers. Studies looking at the method of predictive analysis used in First Sign “found high-risk officers identified by prediction models experienced adverse events at a rate 1.7 times higher than those identified by a rule-based EIS” and that rate of accuracy in identifying high-risk officers increased by 75% while false identifications dropped by 20%.

Mitigating knowable risk is the bedrock of highly effective practices in both early intervention and risk management. The two are inextricably linked and are essential to promoting better policing outcomes for agencies and the public they serve. Benchmark Risk Solutions™ and First Sign operate on this fundamental premise and work in tandem to help law enforcement leaders and risk managers know these risks and understand the tools they have to address potential issues before they escalate.

To see the presentation in its entirety, visit our Resource Center.

Efforts to increase transparency are arguably the most prominent aspect of police reform efforts. Legislatures are creating regulatory changes that require the disclosure of police data to contribute to a better-informed public and shed light on police operations and tactics. A central component of these efforts involves leveraging a still-developing technology: body-worn cameras (BWC).

How we got here

Body Worn Camera

From a tech perspective, the development of BWCs essentially tracks with broader trends in consumer electronics towards miniaturization and reduced production costs. Experimentation with primitive BWCs began in the 1990s, following the relatively widespread adoption of dash cams in radio cars. BWCs did not become commonplace until the late 2000s, coinciding with the popularization of smartphone technology which also allowed the public to record video and audio from a handheld device. Now it is common for BWCs to be able to record in high definition with audio and, in many cases, in low-light conditions.

This tech comes with a cost. The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) published a research paper that estimates one camera costs between approximately $1,200 and $3,200 per year. The reason for calculating the expense as a yearly cost is that the upfront purchase price of a camera is often relatively modest compared to the ongoing costs of training, maintenance, and data management associated with deploying a BWC over the course of a year. The variation in these figures is influenced by an agency’s policy regarding how long data is kept, whether it is stored locally or in a cloud system, and who is able to access it.

As the tech has become more accessible, the prevalence of BWCs has exploded. Approximately 32% of departments were using them in 2013. Just five years later that figure had risen to 47% across all agencies. Notably, 80% of large departments, typically with greater access to resources than smaller agencies, have now deployed BWCs.

Grants have helped offset costs for departments adopting body-worn cameras. Typically, when they are mandated by state or local laws, those governing bodies also provide funding in the form of grants or budget line items for purchase and upkeep. This year, the Department of Justice is accepting grant applications from law enforcement and corrections agencies through May. Additionally, recognizing the limited budgets of agencies with fewer sworn staff, the DOJ has specially designated additional resources of approximately $7.5M for smaller, rural agencies.

What body-worn cameras promise

The arguments for deploying BWCs fall into several categories:

Increased transparency: This notion relies on the fundamental understanding of BWCs as essential to creating an unbiased record of a police/civilian interaction or other policing operation. This is, of course, only the case when the cameras are switched on during an encounter and even then they can only capture events from the vantage point of the officer wearing the camera, leading to debate over a bias in the footage.

The “Civilizing Effect”: One study showed that when both parties to a police/civilian interaction knew they were being recorded that those involved tended to act more civil to one another. Generally, officers are thought to be more polite and less terse with citizens while those citizens are also less likely to act aggressively or flee an encounter. Early studies showed some positive movement on the number of complaints after BWCs were introduced.

Evidence: The scene of a traffic collision or crime often puts a lot of demands on an officer – from securing the scene itself and gathering statements to possibly detaining a suspect or rendering aid. Even those with the sharpest memories can forget the details of an incident in a hectic situation. Video of an entire encounter used as evidence can provide meaningful context and background at trial that written reports and statements cannot.

Training resource: Beyond transparency efforts and as evidence, BWC footage has been shown to be quite useful to departments as a training aid. As many as 94% of agencies currently engage in the practice, leveraging the footage for scenario-based training, performance review (especially with new officers), and for gap-analysis to determine where additional training is necessary.

What the research shows

On the surface, the reasons to deploy BWCs seem as obvious as they are abundant, representing a win/win scenario for both officers and the communities they serve. As research creates new evidence to guide decision-making on BWCs, however, a more complex and nuanced picture is emerging.

Early studies have shown dramatic reductions in use-of-force incidents and citizen complaints, as much as 88% in the landmark Rialto Study. Research published by the University of Chicago in 2021 shows that, among the departments surveyed, citizen complaints dropped by 17% and that use-of-force incidents saw a nearly 10% decline across the fatal and non-fatal categories.

The complexity arrives in the disparity between complaints and actual officer behavior. Researchers published a meta-analysis of available research in 2021, aggregating and analyzing the findings of 70 studies examining the effectiveness of BWCs. While calling for additional research, the topline of this analysis suggests there is not yet conclusive evidence that BWCs improve officer safety. Additionally, BWCs have not been shown to have a statistically significant effect on arrests, traffic stops, assaults on officers, or other types of citizen/officer interactions.

Why the difference in research findings? Broadly speaking, for every study finding a decrease in citizen complaints there may be another one, studying another department as a research sample, finding that complaints did not significantly change. What’s more, complaints are not necessarily a conclusive indicator of behavior in the field. Furthermore, with recent high-profile events in policing, changes in officer behavior and citizen reactions may be driven by factors unrelated to the use of BWCs.

The debate over and study of the efficacy of BWCs shows no signs of slowing down. Further research is needed to identify why some agencies are able to deploy BWCs and see dramatic and positive results whereas others don’t see as much change in their outcomes. One possible explanation for these disparities has do with other risk management and accountability practices like early intervention, data transparency efforts, and duty to intervene policies. Though there will always be a need for more data to base these decisions on, there is a developing consensus that BWCs still represent a net benefit to both officers and citizens.