Professor Of Criminal Justice, Wayne State University
- Video recording police interrogations alone will not change current police interrogation behavior.
- Video recording police interrogations is a necessary, but not a sufficient, reform to reduce false confessions and wrongful convictions.
- Video recording police interrogations makes it easier to identify coercive interrogation practices, but they do not guarantee that coercion will be recognized.
- Progress toward less confrontational investigative interviewing is recommended and is gaining a foothold in the United States.
In the article, “Beyond Police Compliance With Electronic Recording of Interrogation Legislation: Toward Error Reduction,” Zalman and his co-authors explore law enforcement compliance with a 2013 Michigan law requiring a time-stamped, audiovisual recording of police interrogations who are involved in the commission of a major felony. The law was part of an effort to prevent false confessions or wrongful convictions. The authors collected data from 447 municipal, township and village law enforcement agencies in Michigan, via mail-in surveys, to gather information about the agencies’ policies and practices regarding the mandated audiovisual recordings of custodial interrogations. The authors found that the vast majority of agencies (93%) comply with the Michigan law and that the majority of agencies went beyond the requirements of the law by recording interrogations of every crime – not just major felonies. The authors concluded while video recording police interrogations alone will not change current police interrogation behavior, it does make it easier to identify coercive interrogation practices and while the adoption of the Michigan law should be applauded, video recording police interrogations on its own does not end the risk of false confessions. The authors note that progress toward less confrontational investigative interviewing is gaining a foothold in the United States, additional efforts should be made to strengthen interrogation reform, improve error-reducing lineup techniques, increase funding and organization of public defender and forensic science program and broaden prosecutorial discovery practices.