Many police departments are tape recording the interrogation of suspects, says the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Northwestern University. The New York Times says a survey of more than 200 law enforcement agencies in 38 states found that officials almost uniformly said recordings saved time and money, created compelling evidence, and were effective in resolving disputes over whether confessions were voluntary and about allegations of police misconduct. The study was compiled by Thomas Sullivan, a former U.S. Attorney in Chicago. Denver Police Lt. Jon Priest praised the practice as “very successful and very powerful…It’s a relatively unimpeachable documentary source. I really shudder to think about having to explain to a jury why I didn’t tape an interview.”
The taping of interrogations is relatively uncommon. The study identified 238 police departments that tape entire interrogations in serious cases, among 18,000 U.S. law enforcement units. Four states and the District of Columbia require the electronic recording of interrogations, though laws in Illinois and Maine have not yet taken effect. Courts in Massachusetts and Wisconsin are considering the issue, and at least 21 states have considered legislation on it in the last three years.