What We Don’t Know About How We Police—But Should
Using body-worn cameras as a case study, our “What We Don’t Know About How We Police—But Should” panel explored how cost-benefit analysis can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of new or controversial police policies and actions. What did departments hope to accomplish by adopting body-worn cameras? Have cameras lived up to expectations? Were there any unintended consequences? Was there anything departments could have done at the front end to maximize the benefits of using cameras, or to minimize some of their attendant costs?
What the discussion made clear is that cost-benefit analysis can be a powerful policymaking tool. It may be difficult to quantify the “benefit” of promoting transparency and trust. But without clear policies in place for releasing video after high profile incidents, departments may not see these benefits at all. By sitting down and making a list of all of the possible costs and benefits of a program or technology, departments can better articulate what they hope to accomplish, and ensure they have the policies to match.