New audio and visual equipment at the Colonie police station will help strengthen court testimony and foster greater civil rights of those arrested, said officials.
Albany County District Attorney David Soares joined police in announcing an additional $4,500 through a county grant in addition to nearly $80,000 invested in the project in 2007.
Soon Colonie's police station will provide 24-hour-a-day video and audio surveillance of every meeting between police and arrestees. The county money will be used to equip one interview room with the surveillance system, while the earmarked town money will provide for an 26 cameras to go along with the four already in use.
What we've seen, following national tends, people just did the interview rooms, said Police Chief Steven Heider.
Colonie opted to place its entire building under surveillance in order to provide better video testimony in a court and provide solid evidence in claims of police brutality.
In 2007, Colonie officers came under fire during the trial of former O.D. Heck Developmental Center employee Edwin Tirado, who was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of 13-year-old Jonathan Carey, who was under his care. During his trial, Tirado's defense suggested that video testimony conducted by Colonie officers may have been coerced.
Colonie police recorded Tirado's interrogation in which he acted out how he restrained the autistic boy in the back of a van. Attorneys argued that Tirado's taped confession might have been coerced outside the interrogation room, said Heider. The testimony was key in convicting Tirado, said Heider.
Colonie opted to install 31 cameras in each of its six interrogation rooms as well as the connecting hallways. Not only will police be recorded interacting with arrestees in interrogation but also from the time they walk in the door and process them.
Brutality complaints are few and far between in Colonie, said Heider. Of the approximately 3,000 arrests made in a given year in Colonie, several complaints will be made. Each one is extensively investigated, and with digitally recorded video, officers will be able to queue the time of the arrest and substantiate or refute any accounts of police brutality. The footage can also be used to help officers better learn how to handle situations, Heider said.