Law Enforcement Attitudes of Current Public and Departmental Surveillance Technologies: A Qualitative Case Study of The Toronto Police Service
This thesis explores the perceptions of front-line police officers surrounding synoptic and panoptic surveillance and the implications of police body-worn cameras on community relations, citizen’s recording devices and police practice. The study involves a qualitative approach that utilized one-on-one, semi-structured interviews, in which participants were those members of the Toronto Police Service who wore body-worn cameras during an earlier pilot study of the device conducted by the Toronto Police Service. Police as a sampling group are very exclusive and hard to gain access to, as such this study relied on a snowball sampling strategy which resulted in a sample size of 7. While sample size is a major limitation of this study, these 7 interviews provided rich data that were able to provide a valuable and humanizing dialogue of police officers. Transcriptions of interviews were collected and thematically analyzed, resulting in commonalities among participant responses. These commonalities suggest that officers involved in the piloting project that were interviewed share similar perceptions and concerns of this new technology, whether it be positive or negative. Themes that were established include: Context; Synoptic Surveillance; Accountability; Police and Community Relationship and Trust; Impact on Officer’s Job, Career and Routine; Officer Repercussions & Protection from Accusations; Officer Change in Behaviour Due to Surveillance Devices; Officer Physical Safety; Citizens Behavioural Changes and Reactions Body-Worn Cameras; Social Media; Privacy Concerns; Officers Favourability toward Wearing Body-Worn Cameras; and the Overall Impact Body-Worn Cameras have on Policing. Participants reported while this surveillance tool is beneficial in theory, in practice the implications of this device are increasingly negative on police practice and community relations. Study results are framed using contemporary theories of surveillance and concepts central to police legitimacy, and for the purpose of this research the culmination of these notions has been termed the Surveillance Accountability Framework. The concerns surrounding police body-worn cameras raised by this research should be considered for further research and improvement, particularly due to the increasing amount of police services planning on adopting this new technology.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/22788
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