Special Colloquium: Rémi Boivin on Montreal Police-Worn Bodycam Project

In addition to our regular colloquium at 3pm, the Department will be hosting a special colloquium this Thursday May 9 at 12h30 in room 111, featuring Professor Rémi Boivin from the Université de Montréal (abstract and bio below). Pizza and strawberry-rhubarb crisp will be served.

How video documents caused the ending of the Montreal police body-worn cameras project

Body-worn cameras (BWCs) have been implemented in thousands of police organisations during the last decade. The empirical literature is growing likewise; however, it mostly focuses on the deterrent effect that early studies promised. Drastic decreases of complaints against officers and of use of force during interventions are expected, because of (anticipated) better policing. These expectations neglect a key feature of BWCs: they were designed to record interventions and thus, to create potentially permanent footage documenting police work. While these recordings could — at least in theory — provide useful evidence in favor of or against officers and citizens, the amount of new video documents to stock and classify on a regular basis poses challenges that are so important (and costly) that entire implementations are jeopardized. This presentation is based on the recent pilot project conducted by the Montreal police. On the one hand, it discusses practical issues: How many documents should be expected? How are these documents managed? Are they useful? On the other hand, a preliminary analysis of factors related to camera activation is presented to investigate whether BWC recordings are representative of police work.

Rémi Boivin is Associate Professor at the School of Criminology (Université de Montréal) and regular researcher at the International Centre for Comparative Criminology. His main research interests are crime analysis and police work. He is currently leading a research project investigating the “perspective bias” related to body-worn cameras and its impact on judgments of police interventions. He was part of the research team that evaluated the impact of the Montreal police body-worn cameras pilot project.