Philadelphia Police Department Ponders How to Record Interrogations


Defense lawyers tell the Philadelphia Daily News that Philadelphia should join the estimated 850 U.S. police departments that videotape interrogations. “It’s foolish that they don’t videotape,” said defense lawyer Samuel Stretton. “The only reason I can surmise is they do not want anyone to see the give-and-take that results in the statements.” The blackout in interrogation rooms undermines the credibility of criminal trials and the police department, legal experts say. “The inference is they are using techniques that would be abhorrent to the public and to judges,” said lawyer Ronald Greenblatt, chairman of the Philadelphia chapter of the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Police spokesman Lt. John Stanford said Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey supports recording interrogations. The department is in the “infancy stages” of working with the city and others on a new policy for recording interrogations that will spell out how suspects and witnesses are to be treated, Stanford said. Logistics, money, and a state law that requires that permission be obtained from those being recorded are hampering the department’s goal, he said.

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