September 17, 2002

In light of the recent disclosures concerning the Central Park Jogger case, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) today called upon the New York City Police Department to start videotaping custodial interrogations of suspects in cases involving serious crimes. In a letter sent this morning to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, the NYCLU urged the Department to start videotaping interrogations as a means of eliminating coercion in police interrogations and as well as eliminating false allegations of coercion. A copy of that letter is enclosed.

The teenagers convicted of raping and nearly murdering the Central Park Jogger charge that the confessions obtained by the NYPD were false and coerced. That claim has taken on far greater credibility now that another man has confessed to the crime and now that DNA evidence suggests that the teenagers were not guilty of the crimes to which they confessed.

There have been several highly-publicized cases in recent years in which law enforcement obtained confessions to serious crimes in New York after which it was established that the confessions were false or coerced. Indeed, invalid confessions are a national problem in law enforcement, and several jurisdictions have implemented or are studying programs for recording custodial interrogations.

NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said, “Coerced confessions wholly undermine the criminal-justice system and violate the constitutional rights of defendants. The videotaping of interrogations is a simple and straightforward way of dealing with this problem.”

NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn stated, “Videotaping will protect the accused from coercive interrogations and the Police Department from false claims of coercion. Everyone benefits from this reform.”