A lesson from Central Park rape case: Police interrogations should be videotaped
There is a simple solution to avoiding the massive injustice that was perpetrated against the five wrongfully convicted men in “the Central Park jogger” case (“In infamous NY case, lessons for cities, police, media today,” Editorial, Dec. 28). Police should be required to videotape interrogations of suspects from beginning to end.
In the Central Park case, the police only videotaped the so-called confessions and not the many hours of interrogation that preceded them. If the police had videotaped the entire interrogation, the judge and jury would have had a documented record to assess the claims of the accused that their confessions were false and the result of coercive police tactics.
Video equipment is so inexpensive now that there is no excuse why every police department cannot have an interrogation room equipped with video and sound recording. The costs of not having such a system are incalculable.
Look at what happened in the Central Park case. Because the police charged the wrong people, the investigation stopped, and the true culprit remained free and continued to rape even after the Central Park rape.
Wrongful convictions exact a heavy cost on the wrongfully accused and on our society. We need to find and adopt ways to deter wrongful convictions. Requiring stem-to-stern videotaping of police interrogations would be one sure way.