The Syracuse University Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers have been equipped with Body Worn Cameras (BWCs) since October of 2015. The department’s goal is to establish a model program, utilizing best practices to be shared with other law enforcement partners, and to continue to improve community relations and professional standards within the department.
As part of these efforts and research, the DPS issued a survey to random Syracuse University community members, including students, faculty, and staff, in February of 2018. Several survey questions asked respondents to indicate the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with a series of statements about the BWC program. Questions, asked respondents about improving public and officer safety, trust, and transparency of interactions, and providing valuable evidence. Questions also included respondent comfort levels talking to officers equipped with BWCs in different scenarios including as a victim, witness, being questioned or arrested, and asking officers for general information. Responses were recorded on a 7-point Likert scale ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.”
Over 85% of respondents to the survey strongly agree/agree that they support the DPS having BWCs. Additionally; over 80% of respondents strongly agree/agree/somewhat agree that the BWC program improves public and officer safety, trust, and transparency of interactions, and providing valuable evidence.
Over 80% of respondents also strongly agree/agree/somewhat agree that they would feel comfortable talking to officers equipped with BWCs in different scenarios including as a victim, witness, being questioned or arrested, and asking officers for general information; with less than 15% indicating that they would not feel comfortable.
Just under 45% of respondents to the survey were students, with the graduate student population being the highest to respond; with the remainder of respondents being staff and faculty, almost 50% of these respondents were staff.
Overall, there were many comments in the survey supporting the BWC program. To address questions asked in the survey including privacy of recorded information, when people are being recorded, training of officers, operability of cameras, and videos as evidence in court, please refer to the Body Worn Camera Policy.
We would like to thank our community members who participated in the survey, as your feedback is valuable in continuing to establish a model program.