The largest police force in the country will put to use decades-old advancements in videotaping technology by opting to go ahead and record full interrogations of suspects in murder or sexual assault cases, as opposed to only the confessions. NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly announced yesterday that the system, which was tested on assault cases in two precincts beginning last year, will “enhance public confidence in the criminal justice system by increasing transparency.” In 2010, as reported by New York’s Robert Kolker, the department said it was “open to seeing what we learn,” but hadn’t made its findings public before yesterday’s announcement. Put simply by the Journal, “The development was unexpected.”
Legal Aid Society chief Steven Banks said the move would “certainly be a step forward” but warned “there isn’t a concrete timetable to finally put in place an initiative that could have a significant impact on wrongful convictions.” Defense attorney Scott Greenfield added, “It’s not a solution to the problem, it’s a step in the right direction.”
The Journal adds:
It is praised as a shield against strong-arm police tactics that can lead to false confessions as well as claims by defendants that they were pressured into admitting guilt. Some investigators resist, however, fearing the tapes give criminals a window into interrogation techniques and that even sophisticated juries may balk at some of the more aggressive, if legal, police strategies.
“We believe there’s a growing expectation on the part of juries that interviews be recorded. Call it part of the CSI effect,” Kelly said. So, at the very least, crime shows are about to get way more realistic.