Law-enforcement officials across New York will now use the same guidelines when videotaping suspects under policies announced Tuesday in Albany.
Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne, who is president of the State District Attorneys Association, led the news conference and said 40 counties — including Clinton, Franklin and Warren counties — already use video to record suspect interrogations for certain felony cases.
Essex and St. Lawrence counties are interested in developing a program, but each lacks funding.
The program received $1.6 million from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services and New York State Bar Association, and there is about $400,000 in additional federal funding available to help the remaining 17 counties like Essex and St. Lawrence catch up.
"The adoption of statewide protocols and best practices to govern video recording, as well as our collective support for identification procedures announced earlier this year, confirms law-enforcement's commitment to creating fair, reliable and practical improvements to our criminal-justice system," Champagne said in a news release.
Sean Byrne, acting commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice, said "despite the state's difficult fiscal times, Gov. (David) Paterson's administration has made a commitment to funding effective proven programs that reduce crime and enhance the integrity of the criminal-justice system."
He said the $400,000 his agency added to the program is not enough to bring all of the uninvolved counties online, but "it is my hope that they will help keep the momentum going so that law enforcement can make statewide video recording a reality."
The DA's Association Best Practices Committee created the Guidelines for Recording Custodial Interrogations of Suspects, which not only point to when and how to record an interrogation, but includes practical information on what to do if a situation is such that recording equipment is not available.
And while the federal grant funds, and existing donations from the Bar Association will support the program, Champagne said state leaders must provide funds for counties that will need to expand their interrogation rooms or create sound-proof space or purchase equipment needed to carry out the new policies.