Suffolk County announced this week that it will begin videotaping custodial interrogations in homicide cases in the county. Officials said the system should protect detectives from accusations of misconduct and coerced confessions or misconstrued statements.
The digital recording system has been installed in a Suffolk Police Department interview room and will be utilized immediately in homicide investigations.
Equipped with cameras and microphones meant to record the entire length of the interviews, county officials said the system provides a level of transparency not otherwise possible.
"Videotaping will serve as an important safeguard for all parties involved in these investigations," Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy said in a statement. "We believe that videotaping can protect the innocent, help convict the guilty and uphold the public's faith in our criminal justice system."
Videotaping will improve the police investigation process by allowing detectives to focus on the demeanor of the arrestee, Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said.
"An additional benefit of this initiative is that it will enable law enforcement officials to subsequently review tapes to identify information missed during the interrogation," Dormer added.
According to the county, advantages of the system:
- Ease public concerns about how Suffolk police officers treat people who are in police custody;
- Increase public confidence in police practices;
- Protect officers from claims that they used coercive tactics or lied about what suspects said;
- Provide juries with the ability to know exactly what defendants said;
- Reduce the number and length of hearings regarding the admissibility of evidence, and
- Encourage defense attorneys to negotiate a greater number of guilty pleas.