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Cops coming round on videotaped interrogations
You must’ve heard the phrase “Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it”. Some police departments have now tried it and may be sorry they knocked it. The Day has this article on the pilot program to videotape interrogations and the surprising (to some) results.
?The police are waking up to the fact that this is not the enemy, that it can be their best friend,? [Judge Kevin P.] McMahon said.
The police have long resisted being compelled to videotape interviews but apparently are seeing good results when they participate voluntarily.
?There has been, for quite a while, a positive reaction to it, but a recognition that we have to be careful and do it right,? said Kevin T. Kane, chief state’s attorney. Kane said there are many issues yet to be resolved, such as creating transcripts of the interviews, preserving the records and training investigators. He said one consideration will be whether the camera inhibits suspects from talking or investigators from using normal or lawful investigative techniques, two reasons police had resisted videotape in the past.
So how are some departments feeling about this?
The time for videotaping has come, said detective Lt. John Varone of the Groton Town Police Department. His department will be included in the second wave of the pilot program and will share its resources with departments east of the Thames River. In the home invasion/murder case, which Varone declined to discuss specifically, police used a camcorder. Eventually, the department’s interview room will be revamped to accommodate state-of-the-art video equipment.
?I think some of the defense attorneys are in for a huge, huge letdown when we do this,? Varone said. ?Now they’re not going to be able to challenge us and say we tricked them (the suspect).?
Ugh. This is not a game of Gotcha!, Lt. Varone. I don’t wake up every morning hoping that some cop tricked my client somewhere so I can challenge the confession. We want transparency. The point of videotaping interrogations is precisely to see what cops are doing and to make sure that they don’t get a false confession because they’ve got your sights set on one man and can’t look beyond their nose.
Defense attorneys have long called for mandatory recording of interrogations.
?I think it adds transparency to the process that benefits everybody, both the defense and the state,? said New London attorney Matthew G. Berger. ?It removes doubt about what happened.?
Public Defender extraordinaire Tom Ullmann wants to videotape interviews with witnesses.
?Juries are not stupid,? he said. ?They don’t understand why this stuff can’t be taped. And from a police perspective, if you did the job correctly and you’ve got someone making a statement and have the whole interview process recorded, it’s going to be reliable.?
Ullman said juries will now be able to see ?what police really did.? The courts have allowed police to use trickery and false statements during interrogations, he said, ?but I think there is much more problematic stuff that goes on that would stop, such as (the police) suggesting what photo to pick out of a lineup.? In New Haven, Ullman said, the public defenders had a case where the detective whispered ?numero dos? to help the eyewitness pick the correct photo.
I don’t know how The Day got this next bit of information, but it sure is juicy:
Defense attorneys regularly ask judges to suppress statements that are not recorded. On Wednesday, attorneys Richard Emanuel and Douglas Nash filed a brief with the state Supreme Court to overturn the conviction of Julian Lockhart, who was convicted in the beating death of Robert Glidden in Durham in 2002. The attorneys claim in the appeal that ?the electronic recording of interrogations, advisements of rights and statements is constitutionally required when the interrogation occurs at a place of detention and recording is otherwise feasible.?
I bet that’s a State Constitution claim.
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