Maine - Recording Interrogations Compendium

Information on the policy and history of recording custodial interrogations in Maine.

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Summary

Maine has a statute requiring recording of custodial interrogations.

Statute

Citation:  ME Rev. Stat. Ann., title 25, § 2803-B(1)(K).

General Rule:

  1. All law enforcement agencies shall adopt written policies regarding procedures to deal with the following …
    1. Digital, electronic, audio, video or other recording of law enforcement interviews of suspects in serious crimes and the preservation of investigative notes and records in such cases.
  1. The board [of Trustees of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy] shall establish minimum standards for each law enforcement policy…; policies for the recording and preservation of interviews of suspects in serious crimes under subsection 1, paragraph K, must be established no later than June 1, 2005 …
  1. The chief administrative officer of each law enforcement agency shall certify to the board…that the agency has adopted written policies consistent with the minimum standards established by the board pursuant to subsection 2…; certification to the board for the adoption of a policy for the recording and preservation of interviews of suspects in serious crimes under subsection 1, paragraph K, must be made to the board no later than June 1, 2005…The chief administrative officer of each agency must certify to the board…that the agency has provided orientation and training with respect to expanded policies…; certification for orientation and training with respect to policies regarding the recording and preservation of interviews of suspects in serious crimes under subsection 1, paragraph K must be made to the board no later than January 1, 2006…
  1. The board shall review annually the minimum standards for each policy to determine whether changes in any of the standards are necessary to incorporate improved procedures identified by critiquing known actual events or by reviewing new law enforcement practices demonstrated to reduce crime, increase officer safety or increase public safety.
  1. Procedure regarding the preservation of notes, records and recordings…
  1. A requirement that an officer of the agency record a custodial interrogation when conducted at a place of detention when the interrogation relates to a serious crime.
  1. The requirement to record a custodial interrogation does not apply to [situations set forth in the statute].

Title 25, § 2803C provides that an agency that fails to comply with these provisions –

‘…commits a civil violation for which the State or local government entity whose officer or employee committed the Violation may be adjudged a fine not to exceed $500.'

In March 2006, the Maine Criminal Justice Authority issued Minimum Standards for “Recording of law enforcement interviews of suspects in serious crimes and the preservation of investigative notes and records in such cases policy.” These standards require each agency to have a written policy to address recording of suspects in serious crimes, and reservation of records, to include at a minimum “a policy statement that recognizes the importance of recording custodial interrogations of persons involved in  serious crimes when such interrogations are conducted in a place of detention; definition of recording that encompasses digital, electronic, audio, video or other recording; definitions of custodial interrogations, detention, and serious crimes; provisions regarding preservation of records; “a requirement that an officer of the agency record a custodial interrogation when conducted at a place of detention when the interrogation relates to a serious crime”; and the statutory exemptions.

From time to time, the Maine State Police and the Maine Chiefs of Police Association adopted general orders designed to carry the statutory provisions into effect. On August 18, 2011, the Chiefs of Police Association adopted General Order M-11, which in all material respects is the same as the Criminal Justice Authority Order 1-7 of January 11, 2012, discussed below, except for the provision that “This General Order is for use of the Maine State Police and not for any other agency.”

On January 11, 2012, the Maine Criminal Justice Authority adopted Mandatory Policy Number 1-7, regarding Recording of Suspects in Serious Crimes & the Preservation of Notes & Records. The Mandatory Policy contains the following Advisory:

This Maine Chiefs of Police Association model policy is a generic policy provided to assist your agency in the development of your own policies. All policies mandated by statute contained herein meet the standards as prescribed by the Board of Trustees of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. The Chief Law Enforcement Officer is highly encouraged to use and/or modify this model policy in whatever way it would best accomplish the individual mission of the agency.

The Mandatory Policy provides:

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  1. Policy. This agency recognizes the importance of recording custodial interrogations related to serious crimes when they are conducted in a place of detention. A recorded custodial interrogation creates compelling evidence. A recording aids law enforcement efforts by confirming the content and the voluntariness of a confession, particularly when a person changes his testimony or falsely claims that his or her constitutional rights were violated. Confessions are important in that they often lead to convictions in cases that would otherwise be difficult to prosecute. Recording custodial interrogations is an important safeguard, and helps to protect a person’s right to counsel, the right against self-incrimination and, ultimately, the right to a fair trial. Finally, a recording of a custodial interrogation undeniably assists the trier of fact in ascertaining the truth.

    Given that this is a statutorily mandated policy, officers must abide by this agency’s policy as it applies to all standards of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy Board of Trustees.

  1. Purpose. “To establish guidelines and procedures for law enforcement officers (LEO’s) of this agency regarding the recording of certain custodial interrogations of persons and preservation of these recordings and the notes and other records related to the recordings.”

    Serious Crimes:  Means Murder, and all Class A, B and C offenses listed in Chapters 9, 11, 12, 13 and 27 of the Maine Criminal Code and the corresponding juvenile offense.  Excluded are Class D and E crimes in the applicable chapters that are increased to a felony crime by virtue of 17-A MRSA § 1252

  1. Definitions. The Order defines Custodial Interrogation, Recording (“audio, video or other recording”), Place of Detention, and Serious Crimes:
  1. Procedure. “D. Unless exempted by this policy, a recording shall be made of any custodial interrogation conducted by an LEO of this agency at a place of detention when the interrogation relates to any of the serious crimes listed in this policy.”

Section IV E contains provisions for preservation of recordings and notes. Section IV G contains the exemptions to the recording requirement.

The Director of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy wrote in June 2012:

In Maine, each law enforcement agency must adopt a policy that meets all minimum standards outlined above that are approved by the MCJA Board of Trustees. However, an extremely high percentage of LE agencies adopt the Maine Chiefs Model Policy verbatim because they do not want to reinvent the wheel ‘so to speak.’ A committee made up of chiefs and sheriffs write the model policies which are then reviewed by someone in the AG’s office before final adoption by the Maine Chiefs Board of Directors. Each agency must attest that it has one in place and must send me a copy. Maine LE agencies are 100% compliant.

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