Del. Bill Would Mandate Recordings Of Police Interrogations

Recordings of police interrogations of adult criminal suspects or juveniles involved in a delinquent act would be required under House Bill 215 that has been introduced in the Delaware House of Representatives.

The requirement is seen as a way to increase transparency and accountability when a suspect is being questioned. The measure is part of the Delaware Legislative Black Caucus Justice for All Agenda released last year.

“Interrogations are a critical component of the law enforcement process, but too often, there are questions about what actually was said or what happened in that room,” Representative Melissa Minor-Brown, D- New Castle South said. “Much like body cameras, taping interrogations will provide an accurate record of what happened. It will increase transparency and accountability, but it will also provide protection for both the person being questioned and the officers conducting the interrogation. It will reduce false accusations and help restore trust in the process.” 

There would be a few exceptions, such as a person refusing to be recorded or if recording would reveal a confidential informant’s identity or jeopardize a person’s safety. Recording could be done by audio or video.

“This legislation will protect both defendants and police from false accusations by requiring an accurate and impartial recording of what transpires behind closed doors,” Senator Marie Pinkney, D-New Castle said. “If we hope to restore trust in our criminal justice system, we must be willing to eliminate secrecy, innuendo and ambiguity from the equation. This legislation is a major step forward in that effort and one that will benefit all parties involved in police interrogations.” 

According to the House Democratic Caucus:

Prosecutors would be required to notify the defense of an intention to introduce an unrecorded statement in court and of the exception that permitted the lack of recording. Under the bill, the prosecution would be required to prove, through clear and convincing evidence, that an exception applies.