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Review 4 of "Conducting Systematic Social Observations of Body-Camera Footage: Methodological and Practical Insights"


Published onMay 04, 2021
Review 4 of "Conducting Systematic Social Observations of Body-Camera Footage: Methodological and Practical Insights"

Vote: Publish pending minor changes

[For votes to count, referees must reasonably explain why they voted as they did. Thus, please explain your vote. If you voted to publish pending minor changes, specify each change, why it is needed, and, possibly, how it should/could be done.]

The article “Conducting Systematic Social Observations of Body-Camera Footage: Methodological and Practical Insights” is very well written and well-structured and makes a unique contribution to the literature. It can be used a s a methodological roadmap for using Systematic Social Observations (SSO) and Video Data Analysis (VDA) to analyze Body-Camera footage. The many examples used are highly illustrative and the article manages to give important practical advice. I strongly encourage publication, pending minor changes.

I see five minor points for improvement:

Clarification: The article convincingly shows how applying SSOs to a VDA framework can overcome challenges in traditional qualitative methods (p.5) and it also highlights the merits of mixed-methods approaches. However, I felt both points can be made more specific in later parts of the article: Qualitive methods were not specifically mentioned anymore (or SSO is used as synonym, I was unsure) and the authors use a mixed-methods, not an exclusively qualitative approach. In my view, the authors could spell out a little more clearly the contributions to qualitative methods as well as mention mixed-methods as a further possible contribution to qualitative methods designs in later parts of the article.

Headings: To me the repeated heading “Navigating New Methodological Challenges” was confusing. I suggest to change these to “Navigating Access” (after challenge 1), “Navigating Perspective Bias” (after challenge 2) and so forth.

Use of Force: Could the authors specify if the types of force mentioned on page 10 were developed from the data, or from a use of force manual?

Start and End Point: The difficulties to determine a clear start and end point are highly interesting (p. 13 below). Could the authors give an example of a start or end point that they debated over?

Recommendations: p.13 above mentions details on policy recommendations from the study, but these feel a bit disconnected from the rest of the article. I suggest to either delete the part of the sentence that sais “including the suggestions that officers retrain on de-escalation techniques and when aggressive bystanders are present, officers wait for additional personnel to arrive before trying to engage with potential suspects”, or to keep the sentence as is and add a reference to an article where these recommendations are discussed in detail.


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