Camera-friendly Policing: How the Police Respond to Cameras and Photographers

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Ajay Sandhu


How do police respond to the presence of cameras and photographers? Many speculative theories have been proposed offering mixed and sometimes contradictory answers to this question. Some theories propose that cameras will deter police misconduct, others suggest that cameras might improve police accountability, others suggest that police might respond to cameras by engaging in a risk-averse style of policing. Unfortunately, little empirical data is available to assess these theories. Drawing on data from a participant-observation research study conducted in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, this paper helps fill this gap in research and argues that police might be learning to adapt to cameras by engaging in what I call camera-friendly policing. This style of policing involves efforts to control how the police are perceived by photographers, and how they will be perceived by viewers of any recorded footage. In this paper, I outline the basic elements of the police’s camera-friendly tactics, and discuss the implications of these tactics for contemporary understandings of police visibility.  

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Author Biography

Ajay Sandhu, University of Alberta


Ajay Sandhu

PhD Candidate


University of Alberta



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