Illinois law enforcement officials are scrambling to comply with a state law effective in July that requires police to record in-house interrogations with suspected killers, reports Stateline.org. The law, the nation’s first, was spearheaded by then state Sen. Barack Obama, now a U.S. senator. Since then, Maine, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia have enacted similar measures, building on similar court-ordered regulations in Minnesota and Alaska. This year, at least 15 states have considered related measures.
Backers tout the recordings — either audio or video — as a way to protect suspects and help investigators. They say the technique helps prevent abuse and false confessions while giving police a concrete piece of evidence in court. Chicago says it will cost $4 million to implement the system. In Alaska, one state official said the rules require police to record questioning of suspects in custody on “everything from spitting on the sidewalk” on up. “In our experience in Alaska, it’s been a nightmare,” said John Novak, an Anchorage prosecutor. Recording interrogations “was going to be this magic bullet. That has been absolutely, positively, absolutely wrong.” He said the law doesn’t make the truth more apparent in court, “it just changes the battlefield.”