skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 77023 Find in a Library
Title: Tapes Don't Lie - But Do They Cheat?
Journal: Police Magazine  Volume:4  Issue:3  Dated:(May 1981)  Pages:60-64
Author(s): A D Gilman
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 5
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Beginning with a description of Abscam, the 2-year undercover investigation of bribetaking among U.S. Congressmen, this article describes the growing use of videotape surveillance as an investigatory tool and discusses some civil liberties issues.
Abstract: Although Abscam represented the most spectacular use of videotape in criminal investigations, police have used videotape to record a storefront fencing operation, to record sobriety tests for motorists charged with drunken driving, and to record interrogations to show that confessions were not coerced. So far, this activity has been limited primarily by its costs which can run $14,000 just for the videotape itself. The courts have generally given videotape evidence the same treatment as evidence provided by wiretaps. However, since Abscam, defense attorneys and civil liberties groups have claimed that videotape evidence can be misused by law enforcement and that it raises the specter of 'big brother' surveillance. In most jurisdictions, video surveillance warrants are controlled by Title III of the Federal Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. However, most video surveillance is conducted without warrants or court orders because the courts have ruled that search warrants are not required in public places, or where the consent of the owner of the establishment is obtained, or where one of the parties to the surveillance consents. Even in these situations, the FBI has adopted policies to guard against abuse. However, Nat Hentoff, a member of the board of directors of the American Civil Liberties Union, has argued that all electronic surveillance is unconstitutional, and in a recent case involving a New York dentist, the dentist's attorney argued that video equipment is not mentioned in the 1968 Federal wiretap statute. Other issues raised by videotaping include the possibility of entrapment, whether it is fair to videotape certain portions of an alleged criminal offense but not others, and the sweeping nature of the surveillance which can involve the names of several 'innocents.' Photographs are included.
Index Term(s): Abuse of authority; Bribery; Constitutional Rights/Civil Liberties; Corruption of public officials; Entrapment; Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Videotapes; White collar crime
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.