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Mount Pleasant Ready as State Mulls Police Interrogation Law

VALHALLA, N.Y. – A potential new state law that would require police departments to tape interrogations would not be a problem for Mount Pleasant, Police Chief Louis Alagno said.  Alagno said his department already utilizes film and that the rolling camera has become a very effective tool.

“We’ve used cameras during our interrogations for about the last two years,” Alagno said.  “The best part of it is that people are more reluctant to lie when they know that they’re being videotaped and later they’re also unable to deny that they said something.”

The New York State Senate will decide by the end of session on Thursday whether or not to pass the bill.  The bill, introduced by a Brooklyn Assembly member in January, was passed by the Assembly on June 4.  By requiring all interrogations to be videotaped, New York State Bar Association President Seymour James believes that it can bring more eyes into the process and reduce false confessions.

“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,” James said in a press release statement.

Alagno said Mount Pleasant uses a video camera to film questioning of suspects and witnesses.  However, he said the department’s policy is up to the detective’s discretion and it is not used for every interrogation.

“It could be a bit cumbersome to use for more routine things,” Alagno said.  “So it may be beneficial for the state to look into requiring it for only felony crimes or more serious matter.”

Alagno added that whether a law is passed or not, he believes it will become more common in police departments going forward.

“It’s very effective in the interrogation process,” Alagno said.  “So if it doesn’t pass now, I anticipate it’s something we’ll see more of soon.”

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