Why Do Police Refuse to Use Videotapes?

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on November 7th, 2008

Some police agencies around the country use videotapes as part of their drunk driving investigations.  The vast majority, however, do not — despite their low cost, ease of use and invaluable evidence as to driving patterns, physical symptoms, slurred speech, poor balance, incriminating statements and performance on "field sobriety tests".

Why don't they use them?  And why, when they do, do they so often get lost or erased?  See my post Why Do Police Erase Videotapes?


Local Attorney Says All D.U.I. Arrests Should Be Videotaped

KUTV News, Utah.  Oct. 23 (article originally published by KUTV.com) - Many Utah police departments videotape suspected drunk drivers.  The Highway Patrol has most of the dashboard cameras in Utah.  Attorney Jason Schatz wants to see more videotaping for the sake of his clients.

 “It’s only fair to those people if the technology is available”, he says.  Schatz defends suspected drunk drivers and says often, police video is valuable evidence in court, challenging officers’ written reports.  

 “You look at the police report and you’d think this person was falling down drunk, then you see the tape and you say ‘Wait a minute, that doesn’t look the way it was described on paper”. 

Schatz says he wants Utah to adopt mandatory videotaping like the State of South Carolina.  He hopes to find a local lawmaker who will take the issue to Capitol Hill.

Schatz has compiled videotapes shot during sobriety test of several clients.  Some of the tapes conflict with what the officer wrote down in the report.  Often Schatz says, cases are dropped when the jury or the prosecutor see the tape.
 
Sim Gill, chief prosecutor for Salt Lake City disagrees, saying videotape “does not make or break d.u.i. cases”.  Gil says he’s not opposed to mandatory taping of d.u.i. stops, but says he’d rather see state monies spent on what he considers “more pressing needs” like funding the domestic violence shelters, and providing medical help for mentally ill people who are in prison.



Forgive my cynicism, but I'm naturally suspicious of prosecutors who say they would rather spend money on charitable causes than on more trustworthy evidence.

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