To produce court admissible, judicial grade evidence in police interview rooms, high-quality audio is necessary
Let’s paint a familiar scenario for law enforcement officials.
A suspect is being interviewed by investigating officers. After hours of questioning, the suspect begins to open up with more details related to the investigation. This is the big break in the case detectives are looking for. Slouched over with hands covering his mouth, the suspect begins to mumble something.
It’s a smoking gun-type of confession. The detectives heard it. The problem is — the recording devices didn’t.
In a high-stakes scenario like a police interview, proper evidence collection is paramount to obtaining a criminal conviction.
This is why police departments across the country are turning to high quality equipment for police interview rooms. Evidence, particularly audio evidence, can be the difference between a slam-dunk case for the prosecution and a case being dismissed for lack of concrete evidence.
In this high-stakes scenario, investigators must rely on recording equipment that is durable, reliable, and most importantly, capable of producing court admissible, judicial grade evidence.
What happens when law enforcement officials use poor quality audio devices?
Let’s take a look at two risks investigators face when using poor quality audio devices:
Risk #1: Recorded evidence doesn’t stand up in court.
When the audio confession isn’t quite as intelligible as it should be (read: clear as day), there’s a chance the evidence doesn’t stand up in court.
Remember: The prosecution must prove to the judge and jury that a crime was committed beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution is relying on a verbal confession, statements must be clearly articulated through audio evidence.
Risk #2: Recorded audio evidence doesn’t clearly validate the investigative report.
In an ideal world, audio and video evidence eliminates he-said, she-said arguments. Without concrete recordings, investigative reports can be quickly dissected and torn apart by the defense as hearsay style incident reporting.
How can investigators strengthen a case with high quality audio devices?
With the major risks in mind, let’s examine a few of the ways law enforcement can strengthen an investigation when dedicated, high-quality audio devices are installed in police interview rooms.
Capture clear audio recordings
Just as devices with poor audio capture can be detrimental to police interview rooms, using high quality audio capture devices will produce clear and articulate recordings that strengthen a case.
Microphones designed with speech intelligibility are calibrated to be sensitive to the frequency of the human voice. Furthermore, products like the Louroe Electronics Verifact A USB microphone feature a wide dynamic range of >80dB. In layman’s terms, this means the device will catch everything from low subtle whispers to a thunderous rock concert. Devices like this are ideal for police interview rooms.
This is especially important when criminal confessions typically happen when the suspect is slouched over, mumbling, and quietly admitting to the crime.
Reduce he-said, she-said incidents
A well-known criminal defense tactic is to discredit the investigative report. By discrediting the investigating officer’s testimony or report, the prosecution’s case is left to rely on concrete evidence or other sources of evidence.
This is why high-quality audio products are necessary. An intelligible confession is irrefutable evidence that eliminates he-said, she-said defense tactics.
Consider this: Suspects often know cameras are recording the interview. However, with a non-descript microphone such as the Louroe Verifact D, police can record audio inconspicuously. Housed in vandal-resistant casing, the Verifact D fits in a standard single gang electrical box and conceals a microphone behind an electrical outlet cover. This is ideal when police are waiting for a suspect to let their guard down during the interview process.
Another tactic police departments use is to place microphones close to the conversation, at eye level, or near the center of the room. The audio captured is inherently better due to simple proximity.
Produce a slam-dunk case
Best of all, no judge or jury will argue when they hear a clearly articulated confession in court. If the investigating officers are doing their due diligence during interviews and a confession is obtained, prosecution views this as a slam-dunk case.
While the benefits of using audio are clear, we hope this article will illuminate the many reasons police departments across the country are turning to high quality audio equipment for police interview rooms. If law enforcement officials want a smoking-gun type of confession, high-quality audio products coupled with video recording is the best solution.