News 04.13.12

Baltimore Prepares to Video Record Interrogations

The Baltimore Police Department—the 8th largest in the United States—is moving towards implementing the recording of all homicide and shooting interrogations, the Baltimore Sun reports. In 2008, the Maryland General Assembly moved to endorse video interrogations, though they resisted making the practice mandatory. Since then, the number of agencies in Maryland with audio and video recording has increased by nearly half, from 26 to 42.

 

The current procedure for Baltimore detectives conducting an interrogation is to take notes throughout, and to only begin audio recording when the suspect is ready to make a statement. This procedure has led to multiple accusations that the statements are coerced or fabricated. Although the move to videotaped interrogations has been resisted in the past, law enforcement who have experience with the practice are now speaking out in its favor.


In Harford County, the sheriff’s department says it has long recorded interviews in major cases and recently got funding to add interrogation rooms to neighborhood precincts.

 

“It’s pretty much a standard for progressive law-enforcement agencies,” Sheriff L. Jesse Bane said. “People are finding out that the things Hollywood portrays really don’t take place.”

The shift towards mandated recordings has been spurred by the increasing affordability of the technology, as well as allegations of false confessions as DNA testing has led to the exoneration of almost 300 inmates across the US.

 

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