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$1M slated to expand video recording of police interrogations



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Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced $1 million in funding for law enforcement agencies to obtain new video recording equipment. The equipment will be used to record interrogations and to improve the fairness and effectiveness of the criminal justice system, he said.
July 22, 2013
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced $1 million in funding for law enforcement agencies to obtain new video recording equipment.

The equipment will be used to record interrogations and to improve the fairness and effectiveness of the criminal justice system, he said.

"Fairness and integrity form the foundation of our justice system, and New York State is committed to providing local law enforcement with the resources necessary to improve the effectiveness of the process," Cuomo said. "Wrongful convictions not only harm the innocent, but they allow the actual perpetrators of crime to remain free. The new equipment that will result from this funding will improve the strength of New York's criminal justice system, making all New Yorkers safer as a result."

The funding will be available through the Division of Criminal Justice Services in the form of one-time grants to either purchase and install video equipment or allow agencies to upgrade older equipment.

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Currently, 345 law enforcement agencies in 58 of the state's 62 counties video record the interrogations of individuals suspected of committing crimes. These funds will allow the remaining agencies in those 58 counties that don't currently video record interrogations to do so and also will expand the practice for the first time to agencies in Hamilton, Seneca, Schoharie and Tioga counties. There are more than 500 local and county agencies in the state.

"Recording police interrogations in the most serious criminal cases is an extremely valuable tool for law enforcement and is supported by district attorneys across the state, said Cyrus Vance, Manhattan's district attorney and president of the District Attorneys' Association.

"By allowing prosecutors to know exactly what the defendants say during interrogations, video recordings help us to convict the guilty and better evaluate claims of involuntary confessions. Expansion of this program has been limited by budgetary constraints, so we are grateful to Governor Cuomo for this important funding, as well as for his continuing commitment to keeping New Yorkers safe."

Grant applications must be submitted by district attorney's offices in cooperation with law enforcement agencies in their county. Grant recipients will be announced this fall and district attorneys will receive and provide the funds to police agencies within the county.

District attorneys will also be responsible for partnering with police agencies within their county to develop video recording protocols and what type of crimes warrant a video interview.

"The video recording of interviews has afforded police, prosecution, defense and the courts with objective evidence of procedures, dialogue and environment," Michael Biasotti, the police chief in New Windsor, Orange County. "The association has developed guidelines for the recording of interviews, which are now in use by many police agencies throughout New York. The installation and maintenance of this equipment is often beyond the reach of municipal governments. We are grateful to the state for providing funding to support the systematic recording of interviews."

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