Recorded Interrogations and Good Police Work

Many law enforcement officers are concerned that recording interviews will adversely affect the quality of interrogations. However, departments who’ve adopted this technology are overwhelmingly happy with the results, and wouldn’t have it any other way. Here are five reasons why recorded interviews support and enhance your interrogations.

  1. Recordings Have More Impact Than Testimony

Courtroom testimony is subjective. Your choice of words may read differently to different people, and the questions asked can affect how you answer. The result is that even if you know exactly what you saw and heard that convinced you of a suspect’s guilt, that’s no guarantee that a judge or jury will be swayed by your testimony. Defense attorneys can also cast doubt by suggesting that you were coercive. Video recordings provide an irrefutable instant replay of what happened. Everyone in the courtroom can see exactly what you saw—and what you did.

  1. Recordings Simplify the Prosecution Process

The more room that’s left for doubt, the more motions defense attorneys are likely to make. That’s only natural. After all, their job is to defend their clients. But there’s no arguing with video, and defense attorneys react accordingly.

  1. Recordings Result in More Convictions

Just as body and car cams reduce spurious complaints against officers, recordings of interrogations increase guilty pleas. In the event that a case does go to trial, judges prefer video records because they cut through the “he said, she said” of multiple conflicting accounts, making it easier for the judge to render a decision and saving them valuable time. Further, interrogations often occur much closer to the date of the crime, and thus the suspect being interviewed does not have the polished, carefully prepped demeanor they’ll present in the courtroom. Their actions and appearance are much closer to the way they’d normally behave, and they may not be guarding their words as carefully.

  1. Recordings Help Prosecutors Get Tougher Sentences

Plea deals are based on the prosecutor’s best judgment about the odds of getting a conviction. Their job is to get a guilty party the stiffest sentence possible based on the available evidence, and a plea is better than a not-guilty verdict. Recording your interrogation makes their job much easier by decreasing the accused’s leverage.

  1. Recordings Improve Public Relations

Video recordings are good for community relations on several levels. First of all, they help you critique your own performance. Without them, it can be difficult to go back and pick through what went well and what didn’t. With them, you’re just plain more effective. Videos also provide transparency. With a consistent policy in place, you can use video footage to allay community concerns about interactions between citizens and police.

Equipping your interrogation rooms with recording technology adds a powerful tool to your arsenal, one which can only improve the quality of your police work.

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