Is there a new epidemic going around? No, I am not referring to the swine (oops, I mean H1N1) flu! Instead, I am talking about the problem of how some criminal investigators persist in not taking video-taped confessions! Instead, some take the lazy way out by either taking oral statements, (and summarizing them in their reports), or by typing up a "confession" and getting the suspect to sign it!
In my opinion, there are no good excuses for such "lazy cop confessions." Put another way, there are no good excuses for every police department not having and using video (digital) camcorders to record every suspect's statement. In my opinion, jurors should (and do) expect the police to present to them a properly recorded statement, so that there is no guesswork as to exactly what the defendant said while in police custody.
In the alternative, the police should take an audio tape-recorded statement from a suspect. In this case, while the jury may not be able to see the defendant, at least they will be able to hear everything he or she said to the police.
Finally, if all else fails, then the police should, at the very least, allow a suspect to write out his or her own statement in their own handwriting. This method of recording statements is, in my opinion as a former career prosecutor, (and currently, as a criminal defense lawyer), far superior to a police detective writing, or typing, out a statement for the defendant to sign. And all these methods are superior to the "laziest" cop method of simply alleging that the defendant verbally confessed and that the detective was unable to record the confession by any other means. In most cases, this method will not pass the "smell test" of reliability!
The bottom line is that there are no good excuses for police departments not purchasing and using video camcorders to record confessions. Let's stop the epidemic and the bad practice of "lazy cop confessions!"