Activate Compliance: A Multilevel Study of Factors Associated With Activation of Body-Worn Cameras

Body-worn cameras (BWCs) have quickly become popular tools in law enforcement. In theory, BWCs have the capacity to record all the time. However, due to privacy, legal, and practical concerns, cameras must be activated by officers in most jurisdictions. Early comments have raised concerns that officers would not activate their cameras in situations where there was a possibility that an intervention would not “look good” or when a situation might involve unnecessary or excessive use of force—posing a clear threat to transparency. The current study aims (1) to examine activation trends during a 10-month pilot to better understand officers’ compliance with departmental policies over time and (2) to identify situational and individual factors related to activation in situations where, based on a detailed policy, cameras should have been activated. Using generalized linear mixed models, camera activation was found to be significantly related to the nature of police–civilian encounters and officers’ personal characteristics such as experience and gender. Because suspicions of voluntary nonactivation in controversial situations can greatly affect police–citizen relations, this article concludes on a discussion of automatic activation.

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Boivin, R, Poirier, B & D’Élio, M. Activate Compliance : A Multilevel Study of Factor Asssociated with Activation of Body Worn Cameras. Criminal Justice Review. ( Février 2021). www


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