Is it Time For New Laws That Require the Videotaping of Police Interviews?

It has been an age old problem in criminal defense, the police claim your client confessed but the only evidence of this is the cop’s word. To combat the coercive techniques used by some detectives, some states have passed legislation requiring the police to audiotape or even videotape a suspect’s statement. To most detectives, a videotape recorder is very unwelcome in the interrogation room. Often detectives will “comply” with any state law by first obtaining the confession—using the very coercive techniques that the statute was designed to prevent—and then turning on the camera when the suspect has lost his will to resist. If there is no statute requiring the police to videotape the accused’s statement, such as is the case in California,  the police will not videotape a confession, even if there is video equipment footsteps away. As one seasoned detective irrationally conceded in an interview, “It’s better to go on officer credibility.” On the stand, the detective will deny using any techniques designed to coerce or manipulate a suspect into confessing. He’ll deny shouting at the accused, ignoring his pleas for a break or for sleep, and reacting with contempt to the accused’s request for a lawyer. The detective will feel that he can lie with impunity; after all, his partner is going to offer the same denials, and the defendant, if he takes the stand at all, poses no real threat. What judge or jury is going to credit the excuses of a criminal who wants to retract his admissions? The camera doesn’t lie, but in my experience, most detectives do, without a hint of self-doubt or active conscience. A videotape would capture exactly what was said, how it was said, when it was said, and, perhaps, why it was said.  With these concepts in mind, it seems to be time foe California to adopt new laws to require the videotaping of all confessions.  Some agencies are moving toward that direction already according to Torrance Criminal Attorney Matthew Ruff.  These police departments are not waiting and have embraced a progressive approach to the way interviews are conducted.

About thetorranceattorney

Matthew Ruff is a Torrance criminal defense attorney located near the 405 freeway on Crenshaw Blvd. Focusing on DUI and serious criminal cases for over twenty five years. In addition to criminal cases, Matthew also defends clients at the DMV regarding license suspension hearings stemming from drunk driving arrests.
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