PEACEOn April 19, 1989, a female investment banker, out for a jog in New York’s Central Park, was brutally raped and beaten into a six-week coma. The rapist later confessed and his DNA matched the crime scene evidence. His account corroborated facts only known to the police and the attack fit his Modus Operandi. As best as I can tell, he’s never been arrested for this one, although he is serving life in prison for multiple rapes after being caught six months later when he raped another woman who he was about to blind with a knife.

So, why then did I chose this  case to be the subject of my first blog post? After all, it happened so long ago.

On June 21, 2014, it was reported that the City of New York had agreed to pay about forty million dollars to five men who were arrested and convicted for this heinous crime. The case against them was based almost entirely upon their false confessions. Four served about seven years each in prison due to their juvenile status at the time of the crime and one served 13 years, until The real rapist came forward in 2002. The settlement, twelve years later was about a million dollars to each man for each year he sat behind bars.

In 2012, a documentary movie was released by Ken Burns, David McMahon and Sarah Burns

titled: The Central Park Five http://video.pbs.org/program/central-park-five/

They detailed how the boys were arrested with paltry evidence, then tricked into their confessions which they later recanted. The boys decided to go to trial rather than take plea bargains. Almost as importantly, the documentary revealed the police and prosecutors’ tunnel vision in ignoring evidence that may have led them to The real culprit before he committed more savage crimes. NYPD’s finest and the DA’s office have maintained that they acted professionally and share no liability for this miscarriage of justice.

Today, I am calling from the abolishment of the techniques used by the police to secure these false confessions.

 In 1984, after the UK was faced with a spate of false confessions, they enacted The Police and Criminal Evidence Act of 1984 (PACE) and from that, the PEACE method of interviewing emerged. Thirty years later, the method is finding more traction in non-police interviews and can be described in two words: “Ethical Interviewing”.

It’s time to bring PEACE to America. This platform will be devoted to False Confessions, Wrongful Convictions based upon one-witness testimony, and Good, Bad and Ugly interviews.

I served as a sworn Police Officer and  worked as an Insurance Fraud Investigator, who gathered evidence in hundreds of felony convictions.  I want to give time to stories about investigators who don’t take shortcuts or employ tunnel vision and display perseverance in overcoming obstacles to securing proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

I don’t ever want to lose sight of the hundreds of thousands of good and honest men and women who make a brave choice to go about their investigations the right way every day.

I am sure there was some resistance to the changes in the UK to PEACE, just as there was the wailing and gnashing of teeth when the Supreme Court handed down Miranda v Arizona back in the Sixties. The Miranda Decision proved that old dogs can, in fact, learn new tricks and now we are seeing why those tricks, in the wrong hands, necessitates a further move towards a more ethical approach.

What do you think?