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.

  • standup

    Your last sentence took the words right out of my mouth. I was hoping that one of the anti-alcohol fanatics from MADD would comment on this. We all know they have someone checking this site all the time. Right Don ?

  • RichardAlan

    Exactly what happened to me here in the San Fernando Valley of California. As you’ve heard before and for those of you behind the scenes “Lurkers from MADD” The CHP tailgated me in an extremely unsafe/unprofessional manner, with their blinding high beams on for over a half mile.

    Then they illegally stopped me absent probable cause.

    Where did my video tape end up?? It was lost, stolen, or damaged according to the CHP, as it would have shown “Malfeasance” by a California Highway Patrol Officer during my trial in my case never made it to trial.
    My case was dismissed.

    I worked in Las Vegas this past week at the “Car Crazy Central/Sema car convention.

    I met Vic Eddlebrock, Blackie Gejeian the Hot Rod King and all thee famous Hot Rod car enthusiasts .

    The whole time I was there I could not network or offer my great professional skills in Transportation Services for all these amazing car companies.

    So for all you MADD supporters, and all you cops, prosecutors, judges and the like reading this and lurking here, you all stink to high heaven of lies, tyranny and corruption, you should all be charged with fraud and thrown in jail for breaking the very laws you claim to up hold yourselves…..

    The United States and the State of California currently owes me $85,000 in lost income for the last 8 months for allowing the suspension of my license to have taken place absent court convictions and due process. Everyone involved in this tyranny against me and thousands of other honest Americans should be charged for fraud.

    I am Sovereign, I am free, I’m a great American Patriot.