Buffalo Law Review

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Police body-worn cameras have proliferated since the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and the recent George Floyd-related protests seem set to continue or even accelerate that trend. Indeed, in her recent Nieves v. Bartlett dissent, Justice Sotomayor took time to note that many departments equip their police officers with body cameras. Body camera advocates have touted the cameras’ benefits, such as decreasing misconduct, reducing complaints, and improving accountability. At the same time, serious concerns have been raised regarding the impact of these cameras on privacy, public resources, and fairness. Despite the increased interest in body cameras, important empirical questions regarding resources and benefits remain insufficiently answered. This Article seeks to help fill that gap by analyzing a large, recently released dataset. The Article’s primary finding is that a more fulsome commitment to the body camera program—or what this Article refers to as “going big”—is associated with more favorable perceptions of the resources required for, and benefits of, body cameras.