FBI, Other Federal Law Enforcers To Record Interrogations


The Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law-enforcement agencies in the Justice Department are set to start recording almost every interrogation of suspects in federal custody this summer, a reversal of long-standing practices, says the Wall Street Journal. The move, first reported by the Arizona Republic, comes as an increasing number of local police forces are taping interviews with suspects in an effort to reduce both wrongful convictions and officer misconduct.

A memo from Deputy Attorney General James Cole calls for video recording when possible and audio when cameras aren’t available. The memo makes exceptions when a suspect doesn’t want to be recorded or when an interrogation is being conducted to obtain intelligence or other information to be used to protect public safety and not to gather evidence to be presented in court. “It’s about time. A number of states have followed this approach. It has been a remarkably successful set of policies elsewhere,” said Prof. Jon Gould of American University, who has studied wrongful convictions. “It gives a jury an opportunity to see the interrogation start to finish and to make a determination about how voluntary any conviction is.”

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