Miami Beach’s police-worn body camera program is part of a federally funded litmus test to examine the effects of the cameras.
The Miami Beach Police Department announced the study at Wednesday’s city commission meeting, where Police Chief Dan Oates introduced Dr. Barak Ariel. Ariel, a researcher for Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology who will work with the department to design a study.
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Through a $635,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Ariel is working with cops to analyze the impact body cameras have on officers’ behavior and how new video evidence factors into litigation.
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“So we think we know that body-worn videos will reduce complaints [against officers] and the use of force, and perhaps arrests,” he told the Miami Herald. “But we want to look further to see the effects it will have on the criminal justice system.”
Ariel was the lead author on an oft-cited 2014 study of police-worn body cameras in Rialto, California.
Oates, who has overseen the beginning of the body camera program that was launched last summer, has called the devices an inevitability in American policing. He said that besides the obvious question of how to change cops’ behavior for the better, he wants to understand the best practices for using them, and whether it impacts conviction rates, among other issues.
“It’s complex. It’s not just about taking pictures,” he said. “There are all kinds of issues about when you take them, where you take them, what you do with them, how you preserve them, how you produce them and how you do it in a way that still makes sure you have a quality police service.”
Ariel said the whole study is expected to take about three years and will include keeping track of officers who are equipped with the cameras and officers who are not.
▪ Commissioners unanimously approved creating a fee for all new construction. In a second and final vote, the city commission unanimously voted to create a 5 percent developer fee on new construction that could be refunded only if the building received a green building certification. The city also created a new city department: the environment and sustainability department. Betsy Wheaton was promoted from an assistant building director to director of the new department.
We’re going to evaluate how body videos are affecting policing and affecting the relationship between the community and the police.
Dr. Barak Ariel, Cambridge University researcher
They said it
“We’re going to evaluate how body videos are affecting policing and affecting the relationship between the community and the police.” — Dr. Barak Ariel, on the three-year study of the Beach’s police-worn body cameras.
The next meeting
When: 5 p.m., Feb. 24
Where: 1700 Convention Center Dr.