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‘Testilying’ by Police: A Stubborn Problem (The New York Times)

The New York Times, March 18, 2018

‘Testilying’ by Police: A Stubborn Problem

Many police officials and experts express optimism that the prevalence of cameras will reduce police lying. As officers begin to accept that digital evidence of an encounter will emerge, lying will be perceived as too risky — or so the thinking goes. ‘Basically it’s harder for a cop to lie today,’ the Police Department’s top legal official, Lawrence Byrne, said last year at a New York City Bar Association event, noting that there were millions of cellphones on the streets of New York, each with a camera. ‘There is virtually no enforcement encounter where there isn’t immediate video of what the officers are doing.’ As more police encounters are recorded — whether on the cellphones of bystanders or the body-worn cameras of officers — false police testimony is being exposed in cases where the officer’s word might once have carried the day. That is true for run-of-the-mill drug cases as well as for police shootings so notorious that they are seared into the national consciousness.

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