August 26, 2014

Criminology professors talk police technology on MSNBC

Posted: August 26, 2014
portraits of ASU criminology professors Charles Katz and Michael White
ASU criminology professors Charles Katz (left) and Michael White.
screenshot of Michael White on MSNBC
Michael White speaks to Jose Diaz Balart on MSNBC.
screenshot of Charles Katz on MSNBC
Charles Katz recently appeared on The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC.

School of Criminology and Criminal Justice professor Charles Katz, director of the ASU Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety, recently appeared on MSNBC's The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell. Katz is currently studying the use of officer-worn video cameras in the Maryvale police precinct in Phoenix. On the show, Katz talked about what police are finding after they start using the cameras.

He told O'Donnell that there has a been a 40 to 60 percent decline in citizen complaints among departments that have deployed body-worn cameras. When host O'Donnell brought up an 80 percent drop in the number of complaints in the California city of Rialto, Katz pointed out why the numbers were so high in that community.

"In Rialto, we may want to think about it as kind of an extreme example because of the number of problems that community faced before the police department implemented cameras," Katz says. "It was a police department with substantial issues, with some sexual misconduct, some allegations of bribery. The community was calling for the police department to be disbanded."

Fellow School of Criminology and Criminal Justice professor Michael White was interviewed by Jose Diaz Balart on MSNBC about a report he did for the Department of Justice on use of body-worn video cameras.

White told Balart that he only found five studies on the use of officer-worn cameras by police agencies, and that the evidence isn't sufficient enough so far to justify use. White did say that results from research with the Phoenix Police Department and Mesa Police Department show reductions in citizen complaints against officers, but warned that police chiefs have to weigh other concerns before adopting the new technology. One is getting the buy-in of the public, who may be wary of having their privacy taken away.

"The other side of the privacy issue is with the officers themselves," White says. "Police unions and line officers have not universally embraced this technology. They have their own concerns that need to be dealt with as well."

Watch the Charles Katz interview here.

Watch the Michael White interview here.

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Paul Atkinson,
College of Public Service and Community Solutions