RYE, N.Y. — Rye Police Commissioner William Connors said that although he’s not aware of the details and status of a state bill that would require police officers to videotape suspects as detectives question them, he does support the bill’s concept.
“I certainly would not argue against anything that assists us in proving cases,” Connors said. “I certainly support anything that ensures the guilty are convicted and the innocent are not.”
Rye police do not typically record interrogations because of the facility’s lack of compatibility, Connors said.
“We normally don’t at this point; if there was a legal mandate, we certainly would,” he said.
Prosecutors across the state have long taped criminal confessions, but proponents of recording the entire interrogation, including the New York State Bar Association, argue it will ensure those confessions are legitimate.
New York has the third-highest number of wrongful convictions in the country, according to the Innocence Project, a national institution dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people. Since 1991, 27 people have been exonerated through DNA testing in New York, more than any other state besides Texas and Illinois. False confessions have played a factor in 44 percent of New York’s wrongful convictions, according to the group.
“Improperly conducted interrogations can and do result in false confessions,” New York State Bar Association President Seymour W. James said in a news release. “The videotaping of an entire interrogation allows the judge and jurors to see for themselves whether police officers used proper procedures or coerced the defendant to confess.”
While more than a dozen states require interrogations to be recorded, the proposal has been stymied in New York in recent years, and has never been able to make it through the Senate.
The bill was introduced by a Brooklyn assemblyman in January and passed by the state Assembly on June 4, the same day it was introduced in the Senate. The Senate has yet to take action on it.