Oklahoma has no statute or court rule requiring recording of custodial interrogations.
In 2010, the Board of Governors of the Oklahoma Bar Association established a “Commission dedicated to enhancing the reliability and accuracy of convictions.” The Commission’s report of February 2013 includes the following recommendation:
The Commission urges the Legislature to enact a video- taping law modeled on laws in force in other states. The legislation should include the following provisions:
Scope. The legislation should require law enforcement agencies to video-tape the entirety of custodial interrogations conducted at a place of detention in connection with the investigation of any crime which falls under 21 O.S. 13.1D. This proposal seeks to balance the cost of providing equipment to video-record interrogations with the desire to provide justice to individuals suspected of serious, violent felony crimes. Since small law enforcement agencies are unlikely to investigate many murders or sexual assaults, in those rare instances when they do, they can call upon the OSBI [OK State Bureau of Investigation] to appear at the local law enforcement agency with recording equipment to meet the mandate prescribed in the legislative proposal. In this way, the cost burden associated with this proposal will be negligible.
Rebuttable Presumption of Inadmissibility; Grounds for Rebutting the Presumption of Inadmissibility. The legislation should provide that any confession in a case involving one of the enumerated crimes that is not video-recorded shall be presumed to be inadmissible at trial unless the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that one of the following conditions justifies the failure of authorities to video-record the confession: a. the suspect requested or demanded (in a video- recorded statement) that the interrogation not be recorded and it was not feasible to nevertheless surreptitiously record the interrogation; b. the law enforcement officer(s) conducting the interrogation reasonably believed that the crime for which the suspect was taken into custody was not (and was not likely to develop into) a crime for which this statute requires recording; c. the interrogation took place outside the State of Oklahoma in compliance with the laws of the other jurisdiction; d. the interrogation was conducted by a federal law enforcement officer(s) in compliance with the laws of the United States; e. the statement was made before a grand jury; f. the statement was given at a time when the accused was not a suspect for the crime to which that statement relates while the accused was being interrogated for a different crime for which the statute does not require recording; g. the interrogation was conducted by a law enforcement agency with five or fewer peace officers in circumstances where it was not possible for the interrogation to be conducted by the OSBI; h. exigent public safety circumstances prevented recording; i. the confession was contained in a voluntary, spontaneous statement or in response to routine questions that are asked during the processing of the arrest of a suspect; j. the confession occurred in open court; k. the recording equipment unforeseeably failed due to technical malfunction or excusable human error; l. recording equipment was not available for good cause at the location where the interrogation took place; m. other good cause prevented the video-recording of the interrogation that produced the statement in question n. considering the totality of the situation, the statement in question can, by a preponderance of the evidence, be shown to be voluntary and reliable.
The Oklahoma legislature has not acted on the Commission’s recommendation.
In May 2014, the Oklahoma Municipal Assurance Group (OMAG) recommended that all Oklahoma law enforcement departments “adopt guidelines and procedures for the electronic recording of custodial interrogations and confessions. It based on the model policy developed by the International association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) National Law Enforcement Policy Center.” A model policy was distributed to Oklahoma OMAG insured departments.
Some years ago, a federal District Court judge from Oklahoma wrote me, “I came to the bench three years ago after 29 years in civil practice. I find it ironic that if the cost of repairing a car is at stake in a civil case, the defendant’s account of the matter (i.e., his deposition) is meticulously recorded, but agencies with ample opportunity and resources to do so fail to record statements where liberty or perhaps even life are at stake.”
Departments we have identified that presently record:
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