Why should law enforcement record interviews?
As courts, district attorneys, and individual law enforcement agencies started utilizing recorded interviews, the news started to spread about the values of recording interviews in their entirety. With more states requiring police interview recording for some crimes, there is a growing acceptance of—and demand for—interview recording equipment throughout the law enforcement community. The benefits affect everyone involved and range from protecting the rights of both investigators and the accused, to saving time and money in the investigation process.
Police Interview Recording Can:
Reduce false claims of misconduct
Many investigators spend hours in court defending what happened in the interview room. Some allegations from the defense are frivolous, but time must be spent showing that legal techniques were used and that the suspect was treated according to his or her rights. Utilizing interview recording equipment will show exactly what went on in the interview room. This will often hush frivolous accusations before they arise.
Recording an interview protects both the suspect and the interviewer. In the event that a suspect gets violent or an investigator employs illegal techniques, the recorded interview allows for the truth to come to light and for the rights of everyone involved to be protected.
Provide crucial evidence
In cases where there is no physical evidence, a recorded interview with a suspect or witness with crime details may be the only thing available to show a jury. In this situation, a recorded interview can be the difference between having a case and not having a case.
Provide an authentic record
Most people will agree that audio is good, video is better, and body language says a lot. Body language, demeanor, and energy are things that can only be captured by video. As cases progress to court, the essence of the original interview may be lost unless these visual cues are preserved with a recording that includes both audio and video. It is powerful to bring a recorded interview to court to show the suspect’s demeanor and energy at the time of the crime before he or she is cleaned up for court.
In addition to saving time in court, recorded interviews also save time for investigators when preparing for court. Having an interview room recording system in place can give the interviewer a break from taking notes during the interview. Knowing that the interview is documented can help him/her focus on the interview and not worry about taking notes.
Help investigators provide more accurate testimony
It may take a year before a case goes to court. Without a recording of the interview, the investigator must rely on notes and memory when it comes time to testify. With a recording of the interview, the investigator can refresh his or her memory of what happened directly before being called to testify.
Allow more than one investigator to view the interrogation in real time
With an interview room recording system, it is possible for another investigator to watch the suspect in real time during the interview, and to relay suggestions to the interviewer in a discreet manner. Having more than one person participate in the interview makes it less likely that a fruitful angle of questioning will be overlooked.
Allow for continuous improvement
Police interview recording gives investigators access to the video for the purpose of review and training. Recording of interviews allows interviewing best practices to be easily shared among investigators.