By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Beginning later this week, New Year’s day, Philadelphia police will enact new interview policies to protect the rights of suspects and witnesses. And police officials see other benefits in upcoming policy changes.READ MORE: Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf Calls On Lawmakers To Pass Fairness Act, Preventing Discrimination Based On Sexual Orientation, Gender
Police Captain Francis Healy, special advisor to Commissioner Charles Ramsey, says the new policy sets a time limit of 36 hours on how long suspects can be held before they are charged or let go. Healy says police have to balance the interest of making sure criminals don’t get back out on the street that don’t belong there — while not violating the constitution.
“Rather than have them sit there for 72 hours or along those lines, and developing the probable and having them sit there until the time comes,” he says, “there has to be a cut off line when, hey listen, if you don’t have enough for the DA to charge, you got to cut them lose, continue to work the investigation and resubmit the information later when you get an arrest warrant and go back and get the guy.”READ MORE: Open For Business: Manayunk Chambers Guest House In Manayunk Can Be Anyone's Home Sweet Home
Healy says witnesses must also be told they are free to leave. But that can be a fluid situation.
“Often times witnesses will come in and additional evidence will come forward while they are there, suddenly they become a suspect,” he says. “If in fact that happens, we have protocols in place with the new policy, you basically now log them in as a suspect in the suspect log.”MORE NEWS: Former Philadelphia City Council President Anna Verna, 90, Dies
And later in January, the department plans to start video taping interrogations in homicide cases. Authorities say videotaping can help protect police from false claims of abuse while also serving as a training tool for police investigators.