Abstract: This study is a 2 (body-worn vs. onlooker camera) by 2 (dark skin vs. light skin citizens) within-subjects experiment that examines how camera POV affects racial bias in viewers of police use of force videos. Results showed that viewers evaluated the police more negatively when viewing videos with citizens of dark skin compared to the ones with light-skin citizens, especially when the videos were filmed by body-worn cameras (BWC).
Abstract: Body-worn cameras (BWC), small cameras worn on the body that record and provide footage of police encounters from a first-person point of view (POV), are used by an increasing number of police agencies around the United States (Chapman, 2018). Footage from these devices can be used to promote improved officer-citizen relations, deter breaches of procedural justice, and increase transparency within the justice system (e.g., White House, 2014; BJA, 2015). Some reports indicate that their use contributes to a positive relationship between law enforcement and citizens (BJA, 2015). However, despite the advantages of BWC to both police and citizens, recent research indicates that people interpret BWC footage heterogeneously in ways that can facilitate biased outcomes (Bailey, Read et al., 2021; Salerno & Sanchez, 2020; Wilson et al., 2017). For example, one study found that viewers of BWC footage attributed a violent interaction to situational factors when told the footage came from a policewoman. When told that the same BWC footage came from a policeman, viewers attributed the interaction to the officer’s aggression (Salerno & Sanchez, 2020). This research, and others, demonstrates that societal stereotypes and other cognitive processes bias interpretation of BWC video evidence. This is problematic because the collection and release of BWC videos shape public discourse around policing and are often used to assess citizen/officer culpability in both formal (e.g., trial) and informal (e.g., public opinion) contexts. For this reason, we propose to build on our previous work by (1) assessing how the first-person POV inherent to BWC footage interacts with social factors such as citizen race to affect perceptions of citizen/officer culpability, (2) testing if instructions that promote awareness of these potential biasing effects can reduce bias in interpretation of BWC footage and, (3) examining implicit, automatic processes underlying reception of both the videos and the instructions using psychophysiological measures and eye- tracking.
Abstract: The implementation of body-worn cameras (BWC) by policing agencies has received widespread support from many individuals, including citizens and police officers. Despite their increasing prevalence, little is known about how the point-of-view (POV) of these cameras affects perceptions of viewers. In this research, we investigate how POV interacts with skin color of citizens in police use of force videos to affect perceptions of procedural justice. In an experimental study, participants watched 8 police use of force videos – half recorded from BWC and half from an onlooker’s perspective – in which skin tone of the citizen varied. Results indicate that POV interacts with citizen skin tone such that, compared to the onlooker perspective, the BWC exacerbated viewer racial bias against dark skin tone citizens. Further, identification with the police officer fully mediated this relationship. Results are discussed in relation to media theory and practical implications.