December 04, 2017

The Illusion of Accuracy

How Body-Worn Camera Footage Can Distort Evidence

Upturn and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights


This report explains why police departments must carefully limit officers’ review of body-worn camera footage. Policies that permit unrestricted review of footage reduce the accuracy of officer reports, and undermine the independent evidentiary and investigative value of police reports. Many departments recognize that body-worn cameras will capture details that are different than what officers remember experiencing. Decades of psychology research has shown that watching video replays can easily change people’s memories, often subconsciously. We suggest a simple and sensible two-step review process called clean reporting.

Upturn Authors