Study: Tampa police officers use less force when wearing body cameras

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A study conducted by University of South Florida researchers shows police who wear body cameras are likely to use less force than officers who don’t.

“What were you assumptions before this study was completed?” Dr. Wesley Jennings asked. “The officers that were wearing the body worn cameras were going to have less use of force than the officers that weren’t using the body worn cameras.”

Those assumptions were right. “It will identify as kind of an early warning system to those officers who are the bad apples so we can quickly get them off the force,” Jennings said.

“The cameras themselves reduce the likelihood of the officers increasing or escalating their behaviors toward use of force and also affects citizen’s behavior. Citizens are probably less inclined to escalate behavior on their end,” he added.

The Tampa Police Department participated in this study. Now officials are using the results to reevaluate policy. TPD Spokesman Stephen Hegarty was happy to participate.

“Body cams can be your best friend so long as you’re doing the right thing,” Hegarty said.

Right now only 60 Tampa officers wear cameras, but department officials want to change that. “We want to be current. We want to be transparent; we want to use all the tools that are available,” Hegarty said.

The cost makes that desire complicated, though. Having those cameras would cost the agency around $800,000 a year.

The department has applied for a grant to help with the costs.

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