The Baltimore Police Department is taking steps to begin videotaping interrogations in its most serious criminal investigations — a long-resisted move that is being adopted by an increasing number of law-enforcement agencies, the Baltimore Sun reports. The department, the eighth-largest in the country, recently began using video as part of a series of reforms of its sex-offense unit. Officials are exploring equipment options and the policy impact of videotaping homicide and shooting interrogations. Detectives are being trained on subtleties such as where to stand and how their demeanor will play to a jury.
Since 2008, when the General Assembly endorsed videotaped interrogations as a preferred policy in Maryland — but did not require them — the number of agencies with audio and visual recording has increased from 26 to 42. “The technology has changed tremendously,” said Kristen Mahoney, director of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, which has provided $152,000 in grants for video upgrades. “A few years ago, we were looking at costs of [$8 million to $9 million] to hard-wire an interrogation room.” While the public is accustomed to watching police interviews on reality shows such as “The First 48,” the practice wasn’t widespread until recently. City officials say there are major logistical concerns about reliably archiving what could be thousands of interviews a year. Hundreds of jurisdictions across the U.S. now videotape interrogations, and it is required by law in several states and the District of Columbia.