The Jackson County (Iowa) Sheriff’s office has replaced its antiquated interview recording equipment with the help of pooled resources and a $6,000 grant.
Deputy Corey Kettmann said the department in December installed an iRecord digital video recording system.
The $19,000 upgrade equips two interview rooms with video cameras and audio recording equipment for tasks such as interviewing people and processing suspected drunken drivers.
“It replaces a system that was very outdated,” Kettmann said.
He said deputies used tape recorders for audio, and record video interviews onto VHS tapes or DVDs, which were a hassle to keep track of and store.
He said the recordings on the new system will be stored digitally, streamlining the process.
Kettmann said having more recordings readily available will be beneficial during criminal trials.
“It’s much more transparent, and that’s what people are looking for,” he said.
Kettmann and the department’s criminal administrator, Karen Wells, worked on the department’s application seeking $14,519.25 from the Dubuque Racing Association.
Kettmann said one thing they stressed is how the project won’t just benefit the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department — all county police departments will be able to use the equipment.
Kettmann said aside from the $6,000 DRA grant, the remaining costs were shared by the sheriff’s department; the Bellevue, Sabula, Preston and Maquoketa police departments; and the Jackson County Attorney’s office.
“It’s a nice joint effort and everyone will benefit,” he said.
Bellevue Police Chief Lynn Schwager said his department used to borrow recording equipment used for Bellevue City Council meetings. Schwager said being able to use the sheriff’s department’s equipment will be a great upgrade.
“They approached us to ask our thoughts. Obviously, we were greatly in favor of it,” he said.
Schwager said because of financial strains on departments, being able to share in technology upgrades is helpful. He noted there also is pressure on law enforcement to upgrade to body cameras and make sure squad cameras are up-to-date, which requires an investment.
For law enforcement in Wisconsin and Illinois, state law requires the creation of audio recordings for certain types of interviews.
Grant County, Wis., Sheriff Nate Dreckman said deputies must record custodial interrogations of people suspected of committing felonies as well as interviews in certain juvenile cases.
Dreckman said the department’s audio and video recording equipment has been in place for at least 10 years, but it doesn’t have plans to upgrade anytime soon.
“We don’t have the need to upgrade at this point,” he said. “It works well with good quality for audio and video.”
Illinois law requires recording for custodial interviews related to homicide and certain sex abuse cases. Jo Daviess County Sheriff Kevin Turner expects those requirements to expand to other types of investigations.
Turner said all deputies have audio recorders they can use for interviews in the field, as well as portable video recorders if needed. For investigations into suspected crimes against children, officers record interviews at Tyler’s Justice Center for Children in Stockton, Ill.
“We really don’t use our interview room a lot,” he said.
Iowa law states a custodial interview related to any crime shall be recorded. Law enforcement officers who do not record interviews must write reports explaining why, and must summarize statements made.
Capt. Scott Engleman, head of the Dubuque Police Department’s criminal investigation division, said by policy, all interviews done by investigators are to be recorded when possible.
If people refuse to come to the police department, investigators can use handheld audio recording devices, he said.
“The way it’s going these days, unfortunately our integrity gets called (into question) sometimes,” he said. “It’s nice to have as much (recorded) as you can on video and audio. It’s an expectation of society.”
The Dubuque Law Enforcement Center upgraded its audio and video recording equipment for three interview rooms in 2012, at a cost of about $32,000. Those rooms are used by criminal investigators with the Dubuque Police and Dubuque County Sheriff’s departments.
Engleman said the upgrade was funded through drug task force forfeiture funds. With the new equipment, the interviews are recorded and saved on the department’s network instead of a DVR. He said it’s an easier process to access interviews.
Another benefit is being able to livestream the interview onto an investigator or supervisor’s computer, so others can monitor interviews on major cases.
“It’s important for strategies,” Engleman said.
Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2016 12:00 am | Updated: 5:52 am, Sun Jan 17, 2016. Click here for link to original article.