DA gets grant for video equipment

ALBANY—The state will provide nearly $700,000 in grants so local law enforcement agencies can either purchase equipment for the first time or upgrade existing systems that allow them to video record interrogations, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced in a press release last week.

The Columbia County District Attorney’s Office will receive $15,000 for the Hudson Police Department, Columbia County District Attorney’s Office and Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.

“With these grants, New York State is giving local law enforcement the resources they need to enhance the integrity, fairness and effectiveness of our criminal justice system. The practice of video recording interrogations helps prevent wrongful convictions and at the same time, protects investigators from false allegations. These grants will provide an important and recognized tool to law enforcement agencies that will help better protect our communities,” the governor said in the release.

District Attorneys’ Offices in 29 counties across the state will use the grants to purchase or upgrade equipment for 150 agencies, including police departments and sheriffs’ offices, bringing the number of agencies that will use the technology statewide to approximately 400. There are more than 500 police departments and sheriffs’ offices in New York.

Of those 150 agencies, 55 are receiving grants from the state for the first time. With these grants, each of the state’s 62 counties will have agencies that video record interrogations.

The state has invested more than $3 million to allow law enforcement agencies to purchase and install video recording equipment since the first grants were awarded in 2006. The grants will be administered by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS).

District attorneys’ offices will receive the grants and provide them to the appropriate law enforcement agencies in their respective counties. In addition to administering the grant funds, district attorneys must partner with agencies in their counties to develop video recording protocols that detail, among other items, the types of crimes with which an individual is charged that would require the interview to be recorded.

The state Division of Criminal Justice Services (www.criminaljustice.ny.gov) is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including law enforcement training, collection and analysis of statewide crime data; maintenance of criminal history information and fingerprint files; administrative oversight of the state’s DNA databank, in partnership with the New York State Police; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state’s Sex Offender Registry.

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