Detectives' Endowment Association President Michael Palladino says videotaping suspects will hamper the ability to win convictions
Ending years of reluctance, the NYPD has begun videotaping suspects as detectives question them, the Daily News has learned.
The pilot program started Wednesday in the 48th Precinct, which covers East Tremont and Fordham in the Bronx, and in the 67th Precinct, which covers East Flatbush, Brooklyn.
It will focus only on felony assault suspects because they "are broad in type - assault with a gun, domestic assaults, gang assault, etc.," and will provide police the chance to assess the program's strengths and weaknesses, said Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne, the NYPD's top spokesman.
If successful, the pilot could be expanded departmentwide.
City prosecutors long have used videotaping, but the NYPD for years had balked at the notion of having a camera capture the often-hours-long interviews of suspects.
The department had argued that having a video camera rolling would affect the dynamic between detectives and suspects.
It also claimed the technology was too expensive and unwieldy for a expansive Police Department with 76 precincts and numerous other units.
About a year ago, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said advances in digital technology had stripped away some of those concerns.
At his urging, department brass conducted an eight-month study and recommended the pilot program.
The New York Bar Association, in a report last year, said taping interrogations protects the innocent against false confessions and "often improves the overall quality of investigations."
Michael Palladino, head of the NYPD detectives union, said videotaping suspects will hamper the ability to win convictions.
"I think once a jury see what goes on in an interrogation - the tricks of the trade that are legal, such as trickery and deceit - there will be sympathy for criminals," he said. "Criminals will wind up on the streets instead of behind bars."
In the first three days of the program, six assault suspects were videotaped.
Police are not required to tell suspects they are being taped, unless they ask. But they are required to turn the camera off if a suspect asks them.
Browne said it will cost $90,000 to equip the two precincts for videotaping. That includes the cost of soundproofing rooms at each precinct, sources said.