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Bay Area Lawmaker's Proposal Seeks To Change Police Interrogation Methods

SACRAMENTO (BCN) – Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, introduced a new piece of legislation on Thursday to push for more ethical interrogation practices in California law enforcement training.

If passed, Senate Bill 494 would require the California Commission on Police Officer Standards to integrate science-based methods to prevent false confessions.

"People deserve to be treated fairly and humanely by police officers and should not fear having their rights trampled," Dodd said in a statement. "My bill would ensure officers are properly trained and the public isn't subjected to demeaning or coercive tactics that can result in false confessions."

The Reid Technique, one interview method that's been used in law enforcement for the past 75 years, psychologically coerces subjects to admit to a crime by developing a high-pressure environment in the interrogation room. Over the past few years, law enforcement agencies across the world have denounced this method as largely ineffective and subject to false confessions.

One 2006 analysis concluded that this method can accurately detect deception or guilt about 54 percent of the time.

The El Dorado County District Attorney's Office and civil rights groups have drawn in support for the bill thus far. Vern Pierson, district attorney for El Dorado County, says law enforcement officers can better serve the community when they use ethical communication strategies backed by science.

"I am grateful to Sen. Dodd for sponsoring legislation that will improve the interaction between law enforcement and the people they serve and puts us on a path to a more thoughtful criminal justice system," Pierson said.

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