Nassau County, N.Y., District Attorney Denis Dillon called yesterday for police to videotape interrogations of suspects, Newsday reports. He is the first high-ranking law enforcement official on Long Island to endorse the practice publicly. Saying it was “more just and more fair,” Dillon said that by videotaping questioning “the integrity of the entire process, as well as public confidence, will be guaranteed.” Such a practice would assure judges and juries that police are not coercing confessions, he said. Defenders of the wrongly convicted say it would discourage police from doing anything improper.
Dillon’s announcement surprised police officials, who have been talking to prosecutors about the issue in a committee formed after several cases in which police acknowledged they obtained false confessions. Dillon cited a report prepared by a former prosecutor in Chicago. In the report, a survey of more than 300 law enforcement agencies nationwide said that police have come to embrace videotaping, after initial skepticism. Dillon’s announcement comes while his office is re-prosecuting a man released in 2003 along with two others after 17 years in prison for a rape and murder. The release came after newly discovered DNA did not match theirs. The defendant gave police a written and videotaped confession, which prosecutors intend to use at trial.