Will the Proliferation of Police Video Finally End Miranda?

Wearable video, or ‘body cams’, is certainly the new hot topic in policing these days. For that matter, it’s all over the public and political forums as well.

Many agencies will start using them soon if they have not all ready; ink wet on policies that are sure to go through several changes before the ink dries. It’s new, very new, and there are many considerations that most people in the public are not aware of and police executives are just now exploring.

There are pros and cons, like virtually every change will bring. I personally think that the pros for cops outweigh the cons. I say get them and turn them on.

The public will have different perspectives over time, largely due to the fact they will pay for it (data storage alone will put dents in local budgets and other services will fall second and third to police video), and worse (I believe) will be the exploitation of the video in the media.

Those things the police deal with in the privacy of a home and never speak of? Nope. Not anymore. Turn on the news, or Google your name. This started a long time ago and will only get worse. Nothing like a family’s personal crisis being aired on a TV station with a network watermark in the corner. Now that, is entertainment.

Ernesto Arturo Miranda

Ernesto Arturo Miranda

One of the pros that could develop however is Miranda warnings becoming obsolete.

Crazy talk? Not hardly. Given the introduction of video capabilities years ago for interviews and interrogations, it could have been gone long ago.

Miranda is about preventing coercion during an interview. The old fashioned hot white light and rubber hose methods of interrogation.

Over the years, it’s history, intent and purpose has been twisted and torn from it’s rather simple premise. Even today, a Google search is just as likely to find Miranda and the use of Miranda described incorrectly.

Harold J. Rothwax

Harold J. Rothwax

This is not a new idea. Judge Harold J. Rothwax, in his book Guilty: The Collapse of Criminal Justice, suggested the same, citing that since interviews and interrogations can be recorded on video, there is no need to question the way the session took place. That was published in 1996. Video technology has developed in leaps and bounds since that time.

If you have never read his book you should, as in order it today and take a look at it. His take on the justice system when the book was published is just as relevant today.

The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.
Winston Churchill

So…if we know really good video equipment is available (and commonly in use) for the interview room and we know we are about to see a prolific explosion in the availability of every police interaction with the public, why are we clinging to something we just don’t need anymore?


© 2015 DAVID A. LYONS

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