Thirty-four years ago in 1980, when I moved from patrol to criminal investigations in my hometown's police department, the unit had already been tape recording interrogations and witness statements for years. We knew nothing swayed a jury more than hearing a suspect's confession come from his own mouth. I didn't realize how progressive our policy was until I moved to metro Atlanta in 1989 where NO agencies recorded statements. The typical procedure involved a detective writing out a statement or confession by "transcribing," in essence, paraphrasing, the suspect's words. The suspect would then sign it, often without being able to comprehend what had been written.
I adopted a mandatory recording policy at my new agency, first for tape recording, followed later by videotaping. My agency was the first in metropolitan Atlanta--an area with dozens of law enforcement agencies. Prosecutors of all the local counties soon made everyone else follow our example. Today I learned the FBI didn't start recording interviews until THIS MONTH. In fact, the written policy was that interviews and interrogations were NOT to be recorded, a rule that left skeptical juries wanting more. The new procedure will be to record all interviews until there is a compelling reason not to make a record. While the FBI has established the benchmark for many investigative procedures, they were way behind on this one.
Welcome to modern police work, FBI.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Thursday, May 1, 2014
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