STORY: "Police pledge to film interrogations is unmet after three years, by Jim Dwyer, published by The New York Times on December 8, 2016.
GIST: "One morning in September, a line of people turned up at City Hall to speak about a truth that is beyond public dispute: When people are being questioned about possible involvement in crimes, the interrogation should be recorded from start to finish. Until recently, the custom was for detectives to question a suspect until they had extracted admissions of guilt, and only then turn on the cameras. Afterward, everyone would go to court and argue about what happened before the camera went on. Now, 22 states and the District of Columbia require that the entire interrogation be recorded. Not New York, however, one of the capitals of progressive America. Also, of wrongful convictions: In just the last decade, the city and state have paid out tens of millions of dollars to innocent people sent to prison, a startling number of them because of false confessions. A police commissioner promised in September 2013 — three years ago — that city detectives were ready to begin taping interrogations in the most serious crimes. In testimony before the City Council in September of this year, the city’s chief of detectives wholeheartedly endorsed the idea of recording the whole process, and he said that it was already city policy. Those are promises, not law. It is a simple matter to see the gulf between a policy announced and the way things actually work. Since October, a man named Pedro Hernandez has been on trial in Manhattan Supreme Court in the murder of Etan Patz, a child who disappeared decades ago as he walked from his home in SoHo to a bus stop. The only evidence against Mr. Hernandez is his own words. Four years ago, when he was living in New Jersey, Mr. Hernandez was questioned for hours in a room equipped with recording gear that was not turned on until he began incriminating himself. With no physical evidence, the trustworthiness of Mr. Hernandez’s confession is really the only question in his trial. Another case, now in preliminary stages in Queens, involves the interrogation in February 2015 of a man named Alexander Bonich for many, many hours — 18, his lawyer says — before the authorities were satisfied that he was prepared to incriminate himself in front of a video camera. Mr. Bonich is accused of killing a man he had befriended, a scholar of Croatian history who had recently come to New York. The defense lawyer, Spiro Ferris, is arguing that Mr. Bonich’s “will was overborne” during the hours of unrecorded interrogation. Just as with Mr. Hernandez, maybe Mr. Bonich gave a true confession. Maybe he did not. Without recordings of the interrogations, hearings on disputed confessions drag on for days, wasting time and money. Recording interrogations is a way to know whether law enforcement — and jurors — can be confident in the confessions that result. When innocent people confess, dangerous criminals are free to continue their violence. After five teenagers were charged with the assault on a jogger in Central Park in April 1989, the real attacker rampaged through the Upper East Side for months, raping at least four other women, killing one of them, before being caught by a building porter with a broomstick. Nationally, false confessions were made by nearly 30 percent of all the people who have been exonerated through DNA testing. In New York State, the percentage is even higher: Of 29 people cleared by DNA, 14 had falsely confessed. With the cameras rolling, almost every one of those 14 innocent people managed to provide details known only to the real culprits. In a case that reached the state’s highest court, the judges came to the common sense conclusion that the detectives had fed those details to the person being questioned, either accidentally or otherwise. City officials say that 5,000 interrogations have been recorded, and that every detective bureau now has the equipment. But at City Hall that afternoon in September, two judges, Mark Dwyer and Daniel Conviser, testified that they had seen few cases in which the interrogations — as opposed to the confessions — were recorded. “One can speculate that some old-fashioned detectives may not want to have their methods on video as it might embarrass them,” said Judge Dwyer, a former prosecutor. "
The entire story can be found at:
To understand how reactionary the New York Police Department's failure to accept change by recording interrogations from the reading of Miranda rights through to the end of questioning, see the report of the North Western School of Law Center of Wrongful Convictions on 'Police experience with recording custodial interrogations, by Thomas P. Sullivan, at the link below: "The electronic recording of police interviews with criminal suspects is an efficient and powerful law enforcement tool. It has been done for years by many police agencies large and small throughout the United States. Their experiences have been uniformly positive."
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I understand that Derek Bromley's appeal under the new right of appeal in South Australia will open its first public hearing in the Supreme Court in Adelaide on Monday 12 December, and that a number of psychological experts are being called to give evidence concerning the reliability of eye witness evidence called at Mr Bromley's trial in 1984. The hearing is expected to continue until Tuesday or Wednesday. Details concerning the background to this case can be found here: The case is all the more important because Mr Bromley has been incarcerated for 33 years, some 10 years over his non-parole period. (He has not been allowed to proceed with his application for parole because, being innocent, he will not apologise for the crime for which he was convicted);
Harold Levy; Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;