About The Project

Police body-worn camera (BWC) programs are rapidly spreading across the United States. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice awarded over $23 million in funding to support the implementation of BWC programs throughout the country,1 and a nationwide survey found that 95% of police departments either have already or intend to implement a BWC program.2

BWCs may provide a number of benefits. One is that both officers and civilians on the street may behave differently if under the lens of a camera. It might encourage officer adherence to departmental protocols and influence everyone at the scene, civilians included, to act more peacefully. A second is that the video footage may provide evidentiary value—documentation that helps resolve complaints and court cases.

But what are, in fact, the impacts of body-worn cameras in the District? We designed a rigorous field experiment to begin answering this question.

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) partnered with The Lab @ DC, a team of applied scientists based out of the Office of the City Administrator, to study the BWC program.

We worked closely together to design the most rigorous evaluation methodology possible given operational requirements. The end result is a highly powered, randomized field experiment. We leverage existing resources and administrative data in order to complete the study at marginally low cost.



October 2016

  • International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Meeting

November 2016

  • Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management Fall Research Conference

January 2017

  • Experiments in the Public Interest

March 2017

  • Stakeholder Engagement Briefing (with DC government partners and advocacy groups)
  • Law Enforcement Executive Task Force
  • MPD Civilian Engagement Session (for MPD civilian employees)

April 2017

  • MPD Youth Advisory Council (DC high school students)
  • Public Defenders Service Engagement Session
  • City and County Performance Summit
  • Military Chiefs of Police
  • University of the District of Columbia (students from all universities in DC invited)

May 2017

  • Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR) - Law Enforcement Working Group
  • LCCHR - Civil Rights Roundtable

June 2017

  • Video briefing distributed to all MPD sworn members

Project Team

David Yokum, JD, PhD


The Lab @ DC

Anita Ravishankar

The Lab @ DC Research Fellow

Metropolitan Police Department

Alexander Coppock, PhD

Assistant Professor

Yale University

Peter Newsham

Chief of Police

Metropolitan Police Department

Matthew Bromeland

Chief of Staff

Metropolitan Police Department

Heidi Fieselmann

Special Assistant

Metropolitan Police Department

Ralph Ennis


Metropolitan Police Department

Derek Meeks

BWC Program Coordinator

Metropolitan Police Department

Project Partners

Metropolitan Police Department of DC
The Lab at DC
Executive Office of the Mayor Muriel Bowser


We thank the Laura and John Arnold Foundation for generous financial support. The research and views expressed in this report are those of The Lab @ DC and do not necessarily represent the views of the foundation.

We extend our gratitude to Katherine Barnes, JD, PhD, Kelly Bidwell, MA, Donald Braman, JD, PhD, Jennifer Doleac, PhD, Bill Egar, PhD, Donald Green, PhD, Kevin H. Wilson, PhD, as well as a variety of reviewers from The Lab @ DC and its partners, for valuable feedback. We also wish to thank the many individuals who participated in briefings and shared their thoughtful insights and opinions with us.

This study would not have been possible without the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia. They welcomed our research team and were committed to understanding, as rigorously as possible, the impacts of the BWC program and how those learnings can be leveraged into program improvements. Special thanks to Chief Cathy Lanier (ret.), Chief Peter Newsham, Matthew Bromeland, Commander Ralph Ennis, Heidi Fieselmann, Derek Meeks, and all the sworn members who dutifully adapted to a new, complicated program and participated in the study.

Many thanks to the team at Objectively for designing this website and the working paper.

We also thank the Executive Office of the Mayor, especially Mayor Muriel Bowser, City Administrator Rashad Young, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Kevin Donahue, and Director of the Office of Budget and Performance Management Jenny Reed, for dedicating their support, time, and resources to advancing evidence-based governance and policy in the District.