De-escalation Technology: The Impact of Body-worn Cameras on Citizen-Police Interactions

We provide experimental evidence that monitoring of the police activity through body-worn cameras reduces use-of-force, handcuffs and arrests, and enhances criminal reporting by the police. Stronger treatment effects occur on events ex-ante classified as low risk. Monitoring effects are moderated by officer rank, which is consistent with a career concern motive by junior officers. Our results stand in sharp contrast with previous literature which, due to often used coarser designs, showed muted or null body-worn camera effects on use of force. We show that these designs are likely to suffer from attenuation biases. Overall, our results show that body-worn cameras robustly de-escalate citizen-police interactions.