Criminal Justice

In a policy shift, FBI will record most interrogations

The FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies will begin recording most interrogations.

The Justice Department announced the policy change on Thursday after the Arizona Republic obtained a May 12 memo about the changes that will begin July 11, the New York Times reports.

The memo (PDF) by Deputy Attorney General James Cole says the policy creates a presumption that federal law enforcement agencies will electronically record statements by individuals in their custody. The recording may be “overt or covert,” the memo says, and video recording is “strongly encouraged” over audio recording. The recording should take place after arrest but before the suspect’s appearance before a judge.

Recordings aren’t required if the suspect refuses, if it’s “not reasonably practicable” or if there is a “specific and articulable law enforcement purpose” to refrain. There is no presumption of electronic recording when interrogation is done to gather information in cases of public safety and national security.

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