Law and (rec)order: Updating memory for criminal events with body-worn cameras
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Description: Body-worn video is increasingly relied upon in the criminal justice system, however it is unclear how viewing chest-mounted video may affect a police officer’s memory for an event. In the present study, we asked whether reviewing footage from an experienced event could shape what individuals remember, and if so, whether reporting before reviewing may preserve an officer’s original experience. Student participants (n = 97) were equipped with chest-mounted cameras as they viewed a simulated theft in virtual reality. One week later, half of the participants recalled the event in an initial statement while the other half did not. Participants then viewed either their body-worn video or a control video. Finally, participants provided their statement (no initial statement condition) or were given the opportunity to amend their original account (initial statement condition). Results revealed that viewing body-worn video enhanced the completeness and accuracy of individuals’ free recall. However, whilst reviewing footage enabled individuals to exclude errors they had written in their initial statements, they also excluded true details that were uncorroborated by the camera footage (i.e., details which individuals experienced, but that their camera did not record). Such camera conformity is discussed in light of the debate on when an officer should access their body-worn video during an investigation and the influence of post-event information on memory.