Study: Body-worn cameras reduced Metro's use-of force - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Study: Body-worn cameras reduced Metro's use-of force

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Metro held a press conference on the findings of a year-long study involving body cameras. (Jason Westerhaus/FOX5) Metro held a press conference on the findings of a year-long study involving body cameras. (Jason Westerhaus/FOX5)

A study conducted by CNA, a nonprofit research firm, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the Las Vegas Metropolitan police department found that the implementation of body-worn cameras reduced the number of use of force incidents, found officers and community members more accountable and increased efficiency within the department.

During a press conference on Monday, James Coldren, of CNA, said the study was the largest and most successful study of body-worn cameras. He said it found that the use of body cameras of officers held police and civilians more accountable.  The cameras reduced the number of use of force incidents by 30 percent.

The study found that officers wearing body cameras were more likely to make an arrest or issue a citation. The cameras also made officers more productive.

Coldren said the body cameras introduced savings for the police department. He said the average cost to investigate a complaint against an officer in the department per year without a body-worn camera averaged at $5,700 and the average cost of the investigation of an officer wearing a camera was $1,700.

The total savings once the cost of the program is accounted for equates to about $4 million for the department, Coldren said.

Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, of Las Vegas Metro police, said body camera footage has been used to inform the public of controversial issues, such as officer-involved shootings. The videos have been used to prove or disprove something has happened, Lombardo said.

Metro said seven cases have been filed for people who filed a false complaint. The department used the footage as part of the investigation and officers gave the person filing a chance to retract the claim after viewing the video.

Metro said there has been a 71 percent clearance rate for officers who were under investigation.

Lombardo said the footage from cameras also showed officers where they can improve with training.   

There are 1,950 body-worn cameras on officers, Lombardo said. The cameras were purchased with a grant from the National Institute of Justice.

Lombardo said there is an 83 percent activation rate for body-worn cameras within the department. He added law enforcement agencies across the country are starting to use cameras.

Metro became one of the first law enforcement agencies to equip officers with cameras in 2014. Shortly after, UNLV began monitoring officers. The National Institute of Justice funded the research which took 416 randomly assigned officers and split them into two groups, one with body-worn cameras and one without.

The National Institute of Justice said the body-worn cameras also showed evidence to help improve the organization's goal to increase officer safety.

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