Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Tape the Police

Today's New York Times reports that the American Bar Association adopted a resolution calling for the videotaping of all interrogations by police. It would seem common sensical to record all interrogations, so that authorities have a clear record of what was said to use in court. However, in my experience, it is very rare for there to be any recording of an interrogation beyond a handwritten statement. And, of course, it doesn't include all the badgering that leads up to that statement.

One would think that police and prosecutors would love this kind of tool. Video, however, is much less malleable than an officer's recounting of a defendant's "confession." Several years ago a Minnesota (I think) county began to videotape all interrogations. Then one of those tapes documented how a confession was coerced from a defendant, whose conviction was then overturned. Vindication of the video system, right? Wrong. The county got rid of the policy.

No comments: