Videotaped interrogations pilot program to start soon
At the end of June, four police departments in CT will begin to videotape interrogations of suspects of violent felonies.
Supporters think such a policy should have been required in Connecticut years ago, especially in light of two high-profile cases in which police were accused of coercing confessions. Law enforcement officials have remained leery, voicing concerns that suspects will balk at being recorded and that defense lawyers will critique interrogation tactics.
In 2003, Illinois became the first state to enact legislation requiring electronic recording of interrogations. Maine and New Mexico soon followed suit. But even those states were a decade behind Alaska and Minnesota, whose supreme courts mandated taping in the mid-1980s. New Hampshire and New Jersey’s supreme courts have since made similar rulings. Additionally, 500 smaller jurisdictions have adopted recording policies.
Under State v. James, a 1996 CT Supreme Court decision, videotaping interrogations is not required. Despite that, many organizations have lobbied tirelessly for requiring such videotaping.
Rep. Michael Lawlor, the committee’s co-chairman, said the measure has been merged with another bill aimed at compensating those wrongfully convicted. He said a Commission on Wrongful Convictions would evaluate the pilot program and report back in January. “Then next year we’ll talk about expanding” the videotaping program said Lawlor.
Lawlor said he believes Connecticut will eventually require recording statewide.
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