Connecticut Implements Law Mandating Recordings of Police Interrogations
As of January 1, 2014, a new law in Connecticut will go into effect requiring all police departments across the state to record interrogations of serious crimes. According to TheDay.com, Connecticut police will be mandated to audio and video record any written or oral statements given by suspects in all capital, Class A and Class B felonies—a wide range of crimes including murder, first-degree sexual assault and burglary.
Some local police departments have been recording interrogations since 2008, when Connecticut selected a small number of sites to receive funding to install and use recording equipment. Lieutenant Brett Mahoney of the Waterford Police Department, one of the sites to receive the initial state funding, says that all of his department’s supervisors and many of its officers are trained in how to use the equipment. Detective Sergeant James Tetreault of Norwich said that detectives in his department are also experienced in using the equipment, but given the wide range of crimes covered under the law, will need to train more officers.
According to Mahoney, the “number of crimes covered by the new law could become a strain for his and other smaller departments ‘until it becomes the new normal,’ ” but he believes that recording interrogations has important benefits, including protecting “ ‘police from false claims of mistreatment.’ ”
“ ‘A picture is worth a thousand words. The video camera is not going to lie to you,’” says Mahoney.
The U.S. Office of Personal Management’s (OPM) Criminal Justice, Police and Planning Division has disbursed $2.65 million in one-time grants to departments across Connecticut to help them purchase and update equipment.
Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane worked with the Police Standards and Training Council, as well as the state police and the Connecticut Police Chief Association to develop standards for the new law. Some from the state’s legal system, such as New London County State’s Attorney Michael Regan, say that the law will require more work for many people, including attorneys who have to view the recordings, which can last at least six hours. But, says Regan, “ ‘. . .everybody is pretty much on board. . . . Any time (police) interview a defendant, we usually like to have it on video.’ ”
Read more about the benefits of mandatory recording of interrogations
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