Assemblyman Joe Lentol announced this week that Governor Cuomo has allocated nearly $700,000 in funding to local law enforcement agencies to purchase equipment or upgrade existing systems that allow for the video taping of custodial interrogations. Custodial interrogations refer to questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody, often times when the individual is not under arrest.
“We have been hearing from law enforcement that video recorded custodial interrogations are difficult because of a lack of resources, but now the Governor has given them the much-needed resources to institute this program,” Lentol said. “Yet, we must take the next step by enacting legislation that requires mandatory recording of custodial interrogations so that instead of an ad hoc use of videotaping, the practice becomes planned and consistent.”
Lentol has sponsored legislation in the Assembly for several years because videotaping prevents coerced confessions, while at the same time protecting investigators from false allegations of intimidation by defendants.
The legislation requires that if a recording is not made of an interrogation, any oral or written statements by the accused are presumed inadmissible as evidence in any criminal proceeding charging a felony offense or felony offenses.
“I have advocated very strongly for improving the criminal justice system so that New York State can reduce cases of wrongful convictions,” Lentol said. “Now that the Governor has given law enforcement the resources, there shouldn’t be any reason as to why all interrogations of defendants accused of felony offenses are not recorded.”