Computational Analysis of Police Body-Worn Camera Footage

Brandon Stewart (Sociology), Spring 2023

Body cameras have become nearly ubiquitous across large and small police departments in the United States since early adopters began piloting studies in the early 2010s. As of 2023, all major US police departments as well as a good proportion of medium sized or smaller departments are currently using or have at least piloted a body camera program. Despite the widespread adoption of body cameras, research on the efficacy of body cameras has been mixed and analysis of the footage is rare. Our project will create a rich new data stream by converting troves of unstructured, nearly untouched police body-worn camera (BWC) footage into detailed timelines—an information source that will enable countless new analyses in the burgeoning multidisciplinary literature on police-civilian interactions. By combining extensive human annotation of the footage with recent advances in computer vision, our system will be transparent, scalable, and reliable.