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To Stop Police Shootings, We Need To Move Beyond ‘Bad Cops’

By in Huffington Post on May 18, 2017

By Erin Schumaker

In the wake high-profile cases of police officers shooting and killing black men, a popular potential solution that emerged was clipping body cameras to officers’ uniforms ― 88 percent of Americans in a 2015 poll said they would support a proposal for police officers to wear body cameras.

In theory, documenting law enforcement interactions with civilians both discourages abuses of power and provides evidence in the event of an altercation or officer-involved shooting.

The White House funded a body camera initiative in 2015, and cameras have been rolled out in police departments across the country, including a 1,200-person pilot program that began in April in New York City, home to the nation’s largest police force. But body cameras are new and we don’t know have enough research on them yet to prove whether they improve relations between officers and the public. (Some studies have shown that body cameras reduce police use of force, while other research indicates the opposite.)

But according to researchers at the University of Indianapolis, we might be thinking about police officer shootings from the wrong angle.

“It was all focused fairly narrowly on changing the attitudes and behaviors of individual officers,” Aaron Kivisto, assistant professor in the College of Applied Behavioral Sciences at the University of Indianapolis, said of police reform measures such as body cameras and anti-violence training.

Kivisto is the lead author of a study published May 18 in the American Journal of Public Health, which explored the opposite side of the equation: the physical environment officers work in and whether that affects how often police officers turn […]    

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