Body‐Worn Cameras and Policing: A List Experiment of Citizen Overt and True Support

Source: Daniel E. Bromberg, Étienne Charbonneau, Andrew Smith, Public Administration Review, Volume 78 Issue 6, November/December 2018
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From the abstract:
Police body‐worn cameras (BWCs) have gained popularity in recent years. However, many minimize the complexity of this transparency initiative and elevate the potential benefits. While BWCs can promote police accountability, they may also reduce citizen trust in police organizations. For BWCs to achieve win‐win solutions, police organizations should determine the level of citizen support for specific BWC practices. However, measuring citizen support presents several challenges. Social desirability may impact polling results, as participants underreport responses they perceive to be outside the norm. The authors employ a list experiment design to measure true citizen support for BWC practices. They find statistically significant levels of social desirability for police discretion in the activation of BWCs and for restriction of footage accessibility regarding suspects with mental illness. Decision makers should not rely on public opinion polls as a gauge of true citizen support for BWC use.