The Justice Department has issued a policy change that will direct federal agents from the FBI, DEA, BATFE, and the U.S. Marshals Service to begin electronically recording suspect interviews. Welcome to the 1980’s, G-Men! Seriously, this will be an important credibility boost for the Feds.
One of my cyber-crimes detectives was recently on the stand in a federal trial. As a task force agent, he was questioned on cross-examination about his lack of a recorded suspect interview. In the gallery, I squirmed when the savvy defense lawyer pointedly asked him, “In your capacity as a local law enforcement officer, isn’t it true that you would have taped your interrogation of my client?” “Yes.” “So we can’t really hear exactly what my client said because federal rules prevented it.” Ruh-roh.
The Justice Department policy change will take effect in July. Although I wholeheartedly applaud the new directive, I am still scratching my head was to why this was not done…I don’t know…several decades ago.