New technology will help make interviewing suspects easier
By WFSB Staff
NEW LONDON, CT (WFSB) -
There may be new technology headed to a police department near you. A state law requires standard procedures for recording interviews by next year, and one new service may protect suspects as well as police.
Some of the most difficult discussions imaginable take place in interview chairs at police stations.
"We do forensic interviews of children here who have been abused," said Kathy Miller, of New London.
Miller coordinates what will soon be called the New London County Child Advocacy Center.
Investigators from numerous agencies in New London County can have specially trained interviewers there talk to children to find out about abuse - and it's all on tape.
"You have real, firsthand view and valid documentation of what happened when the crime happened," Miller said.
Miller uses a computer program called CaseCracker.
There are cameras and microphones in the interview room and once she hits the start button the entire session is recorded. It even records the empty room while the child takes a bathroom break.
It means there's a clear record of what happened, how long it took and if the child's story is reliable. It's a far cry from the interviews Miller said she used to conduct during her early days as a state trooper.
"I would go to somebody's home and ask the parents 'can I talk to your child?' And maybe sit on the floor in plain clothes that day and just do the best I could. And we've come so much farther now," Miller said.
East Lyme High School graduate Faith Clauson works for Cardinal Peak, the Colorado company that sells the CaseCracker software.
"To start a recording I click 'record,' I enter in a subject name and a case number and I click 'OK' and it starts recording," she said.
It can be used to interview children in a comfortable setting or to interview a murder suspect inside a police department. It's already used by a handful of agencies and the company expects more soon as a new state law will require standardized practices for videotaping interviews to be in place by next year.
Clauson said a good recording protects suspects and the police.
"It prevents them from false accusations of misconduct," Clauson said. "They can show the video and say this is what happened in the interview room. I asked a bunch of questions and that was it."
Whether it's an interview with a child in New London or an interview with a suspect at a police department, they have one thing in common: the door is always closed.
So only the people inside the room know what happened, unless of course, it's all on video.
Some investigators have used video for years, but many use what Clauson calls a Radio Shack solution.
CaseCracker is turnkey, with dedicated computers and installed cameras, and even investigators who fear technology find it easy.
"You put the system in front of them and you say, 'click record,' and they say 'wow, the system is so easy. If I can do that everyone else here can do it,'" Clauson said.
Investigators said you often only get just one chance to do an interview right and with software like this, one click of a button will document what happened and save it forever.
Currently 17 states have similar requirements, but Connecticut's law is unique because lawmakers here have found grant money to help pay for the upgraded technology.
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