Since its founding in 1908, DOJ policy explicitly prohibited the recording of suspect and witness interviews. That will change on July 11th, 2014.
The new policy, announced in a memo from Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, “establishes a presumption” that the FBI, DEA, AFT, and US Marshals “will electronically record statements made by individuals in their custody.” The policy “also encourages agents and prosecutors to consider electronic recording in investigative or other circumstances where the presumption does not apply.” This would include in the questioning of witnesses.
This policy is a positive step in the pursuit of truth and justice. It will help protect against mistakes and lies in the recounting of witness statements, and will expose and possibly curb “deceit and psychological trickery legally employed by agents to obtain information and confessions.” (AZ Republic).
The policy contains exceptions for public-safety situations and national security intelligence-gathering interviews, among others.
While it remains to be seen how quickly agents respond to this policy and how often the exceptions are utilized, as a former U.S. Attorney for Arizona commented, “It’s a step in the right direction[.]” (AZ Republic).
Here is a link to the memo – 225510239-DOJ-Recording-Policy