Local News

November 26, 2013

Grants to improve police video capability

MALONE — District attorney’s offices in Franklin and Clinton counties are among those sharing $700,000 to buy or upgrade equipment to record police interrogations.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the funding, saying in a news release that video capability will improve “the fairness and effectiveness of the criminal-justice system.”

Clinton County DA Andrew Wylie’s office will receive $7,910 for the Sheriff’s Department and Plattsburgh City Police Department.

Franklin County DA Derek Champagne’s office was awarded $29,970 for the municipal police departments in Malone, Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake, as well as the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Department and the Sheriff’s Department.

Champagne said he pushed for such program funding two years ago when he was president of the State District Attorneys Association.

“We agreed with the State Bar that pilot projects had the ability to prevent wrongful convictions,” he said, “and (a recorded interview) also has the ability to quickly show defense counsel that an interview and subsequent confession was knowingly and voluntarily made after a defendant waived his or her Miranda warnings.

“The money has the ability to make a better system for all,” he said.

“If a defendant is distraught, sleep deprived and or has a minimal mental capacity, the video will show this. 

“It will also show if a defendant is cold, callous and shows no remorse.”

Each grant recipient will establish a protocol that details which suspects will be required to be recorded, based on the crimes they are accused of committing.

“Allegations of police misconduct or improper waivers are quickly resolved when the interrogation video is replayed,” Champagne said, adding that, “in today’s electronics age, this technology is an affordable way to make our system better.” 

The money will be shared by DAs in 29 counties.

Email Denise A.

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