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Police Body Cameras: Digging Through the Data

In the past two years, body-worn cameras have gone from a rare technology to a booming demand among U.S. law enforcement agencies. How did we get here, what does that market look like and where is it headed?

In 2014, a white police officer shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old black man Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., outside St. Louis.

What followed were nationwide protests, the Black Lives Matter movement — spurred on by other police killings of African Americans as well — and a call for cops to wear body cameras.

The technology was not new. But the events that unfolded in Ferguson took what used to be a relatively rare piece of hardware and turn it into what is now a booming market and one of the most important trends in law enforcement and surveillance technology today.

Here we will dig into the data at our disposal to illustrate how we got here, what the market currently looks like and where it might go in the future.


The Past


Data Pinpoints the Moment When Police Body Cameras Took Off

The Present

Body camera adoption by agency type and size

Just How Common Are Body Cameras in Police Departments?

Footage from the shooting of Stephon Clark

What Body Cams Do: Behavior, Accountability and Trust

Police officers in riot gear wearing body cameras

What Body Cams Do: Resolving Complaints Against Officers

People protesting in Washington, D.C., following the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in 2016

What Body Cams Do: Policy, Discretion and Deeper Problems

Check back here for continuing coverage.

Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.