New York Dodgers

Report and Hearing Mean More Status Quo

The police investigative panel conceded a handful of errors that should have been better handled, and offered a few recommendations for perfunctory changes. One suggestion was to create adequate space to interrogate minors because rooms used now are too small. The report also said that a "management team" should have been created that night to handle a case with so many tentacles.

There is a canyon-sized gap between these recommendations and what advocates say must be done to avoid disaster. Perkins is lobbying for full videotaping of interrogations, instead of just short, taped confessions. Activists like Neufeld say there must be change in archaic rules on interrogation such as limiting lying to suspects and not using information given during police contact before they have been officially arrested. "The way they interrogate people creates a huge possibility that they are going to get false confessions," Neufeld says.

Davis favors a further change in the questioning of minors. He feels that having a parent or guardian present is not enough. "There shouldn't be any interrogation without a bona fide lawyer present, not just the parent," says Davis. That parent may not have the knowledge necessary and the police may be able to talk circles around the parent's head. So I'd like to see even more protection as far as having a lawyer present when any interrogation is done of a child."

But change won't be easy politically, Perkins says. "There is already resistance even within the council. The chairman is thinking [videotaping] handcuffs the police," says Perkins. In fact, Vallone confirms his concern that videotaped interrogations will get good confessions "tossed out on technicalities."

Looking at how little change has come out of past disasters like the Louima case doesn't say much for what's to come. "We still have the 48-hour rule. We still have residency issues. We still have situations where police are able to cover up without consequences. Bad police make it bad for good police," Perkins says.

As for the final say in the Central Park jogger case, lawyers for the five young men are looking toward the civil suit to help bring out the truth of what happened in the interrogation rooms in the hours following the Central Park attack. According to Warren, "Reforms will come about only after we glean through the depositions in the discovery process what really occurred."

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