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Police Experiences with Recording Custodial Interrogations

NCJ Number
Judicature Volume: 88 Issue: 3 Dated: November-December 2004 Pages: 132-136
Thomas P. Sullivan
Date Published
November 2004
5 pages
This article examines the benefits in utilizing audio and/or video equipment to record custodial interrogations or interviews by prosecutors and law enforcement agencies.
Law enforcement agencies have traditionally embraced improved technology for investigating and solving crimes. This has been seen with the use of recordings to record traffic stops, solve disputes in sporting events, and more. However, this has not been the case when questioning suspects in police custody. The vast majority of law enforcement agencies in the United States do not record custodial interrogations for several reasons such as, recordings interfering with custodial interviews or recordings are too costly. Custodial recordings benefit law enforcement officers, suspects, prosecutors, juries, and the search for truth in the criminal justice system. This article discusses the changes within law enforcement today to require police to make complete electronic recordings when questioning suspects in custody for felonies. A summary of the benefits in recording as described by experienced officers is presented, suggesting that the tapes create a permanent account of exactly what occurred in order to prevent disputes about how the suspect was treated and what was said and done. In addition, objections to recordings by officers who oppose recording custodial interviews are presented.