New State Law Requiring Video Of Interrogations Now In Effect

A state law requiring law enforcement agencies to video record custodial interrogations with individuals accused of serious crimes, including homicides and violent felony sex offenses, is now in effect.

The law, originally passed as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s criminal justice reforms in 2017, will help ensure the reliability of evidence that is later presented at trial and guard against false confessions.

“Recording interrogations can be critical in helping convict the guilty, free the wrongly accused and uphold faith and confidence in our criminal justice system,” Cuomo said. “I’m proud that this hard-fought reform is now in effect, bringing us one step closer to a more fair and more just New York for all.”

As of April 1, law enforcement investigators are required to video record interrogations of individuals accused of most serious non-drug felonies. The requirement applies only to custodial interrogations at police stations, correctional facilities, prosecutor’s offices, and similar holding areas. Failure to record interrogations in applicable cases could result in a court determining that a confession is inadmissible as evidence, according to the new law. The change to the Criminal Procedure Law was adopted by the state Legislature along with other critical reforms proposed by Cuomo as part of the 2017-18 state budget.

In advance of the new law taking effect, the New York State Municipal Police Training Council amended a 2013 model policy outlining how law enforcement agencies should properly record custodial interrogations. The council, with its members appointed by Cuomo, designs and approves model policies to help guide law enforcement agencies. The Office of Public Safety at the state Division of Criminal Justice Services staffs the Council and assists with developing model policies.

The model policy includes the steps law enforcement must take in advance of and during an interrogation, including recording Miranda warnings; finding an age-appropriate setting if juvenile is being interviewed; camera positioning; date and time stamping of the footage; identifying all parties present for the recording; and documenting any equipment challenges that arise. The model policy also discusses how to properly handle footage resulting from an interrogation.

The model policy is intended as guidance for law enforcement agencies as they adopt ones tailored to their specific needs. The policy was developed with input from a wide variety of stakeholders, included the District Attorney’s Association of the State of New York, the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, the New York State Police, the New York City Police Department and the New York State Sheriff’s Association.

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