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Gardena Police Department Lays Down the Law

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 30 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2003 Pages: 60,62,64
Glenn Estersohn
Date Published
April 2003
4 pages
This article discusses the use of digital voice recorders by police officers.
Sony’s digital voice recorders have helped the Gardena Police Department in Los Angeles County, CA, seal felony convictions, clear police officers from frivolous personnel complaints, and improve the accuracy of investigations. These digital voice recorders have become a core piece of police equipment for the department. The voice recorders solidify a victim’s statement and provide better insight into that person’s state of mind when played back. The lightweight handheld devices store voice recordings as compressed data files onto IC memory chips instead of cassette tapes. The date and time stamp feature solves a crucial problem of access and retrieval, especially when a civilian files a complaint regarding officer conduct several weeks after the incident allegedly occurred. The department can quickly and easily locate the digital voice recording of the incident in question. The voice recorders have also proven valuable in dealing with suspects. Unsolicited incriminating statements can be recorded immediately after arrest. The officers can record interactions with confrontational suspects because the recordings show exactly what tone the suspects were using and it justifies some of the actions by the officers. Because the digital voice recorders offer easy file access, officers can refer back to statements within the recordings, particularly in long statements from a witness. Part of the department’s success with the recorders was the establishment of clear-cut procedures for acquiring, uploading, and retaining the recordings. When officers return from their patrols, they upload recordings into a password-protected mailbox. Once the recording is uploaded, the officer cannot change or erase it. When cases go to court, the compressed voice recorder files are easily converted into standard WAV files and burned onto a compact disc.