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Law professor calls for mandatory recording of police interrogations in Arizona

PHOENIX — A Northwestern University law professor says that Arizona could learn a lesson from the Debra Milke case.

Laura Nirider said law enforcement agencies should make sure that all police interrogations are recorded for people to listen to later.

During the investigation into the 1989 death of Milke’s 4-year-old son Christopher, a Phoenix police detective claimed Milke admitted that she killed her son. He claimed the confession came during a police interrogation that was never recorded.

Milke denied the confession. The lack of evidence factored into a court’s decision to overturn her conviction earlier this week.

Nirider said that Arizona could learn a lesson from the turn of events surrounding Milke.

“We should work together on mandating electronic recording of police interrogations statewide in Arizona,” she said.

It’s a trend across the country.

“Over 20 states, by law or court actions, now require electronic recording of interrogations,” said Nirider. “I believe that the number is more than 1,000 additional police agencies voluntarily record their interrogations, including a number in Arizona.”

Nirider is calling on the Arizona Legislature to make such recordings mandatory.

“With this one step, we can better preserve important evidence in criminal investigations, and, at the same time, reduce false confessions and wrongful convictions,” she said.