The FBI and several other federal law enforcement agencies will begin taking video recordings of statements by most suspects in their custody, reversing a longstanding bureau policy that largely prohibited all recordings, reports The Arizona Republic. The policy change, which was leaked by the Republic, was made by the Department of Justice and applies to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the United States Marshals Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives as well. The policy establishes "a presumption" that recordings will be made of individuals taken into custody, though that can be waived for national security matters if the subject refuses, according to NPR.
The recordings will have a major impact on testimony from the FBI and other agencies during a trial. The Republic reports that, as juries have grown used to recorded evidence, there have been issues for both prosecutors and defendants from the lack of audio. Defense attorneys have reportedly been able to undermine honest FBI testimony, while in other cases, inaccurate testimony is believed to have led to false convictions. The Justice Department even recommends that agents and prosecutors consider where else they might be able to make recordings, in an effort to create an even more thorough trail of documentation. The Justice Department reportedly announced the policy change internally last week, and its changes will go into effect on July 11th.