PHILADELPHIA (AP) — David Freed, the Republican candidate for Pennsylvania attorney general, said Friday he would be an advocate for expanding the use of video recording for law enforcement.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Freed, Cumberland County’s district attorney, said videos can provide crucial evidence to convict suspects of crimes, for example, or reaffirm a police officer’s statement claiming to have pulled over a motorist for drunken driving because the vehicle was weaving.
“I like (criminal) processing being videoed. I like in-car videos. I like the video and audio on the police officer, because there is no question then about what happened,” he said. “You can play those in court, and it’s the best evidence you can have.”
Also during the hour-long interview, Freed said he sees no reason for the next attorney general to review the department’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual-abuse case, outlined plans to fine-tune the agency’s focus and said he owns a handgun.
Freed, 41, is running on his experience — seven years as Cumberland County’s elected district attorney and eight years before that as a county prosecutor. While acknowledging that his Democratic foe, Kathleen Kane, is a former seasoned prosecutor in Lackawanna County, he said his management experience as a DA gives him a broader perspective.
The Camp Hill resident hopes to become the next in a line of Republican attorneys general that has been unbroken since the post became an elected office in 1980.
His father-in-law, LeRoy Zimmerman, was the state’s first elected attorney general and served two four-year terms.
Freed defended the use of investigating grand juries in complicated cases such as the one that resulted in last month’s conviction of Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, on 45 counts for sexually abusing 10 boys during 15-year span.
Gov. Tom Corbett was the attorney general when that office launched its investigation in 2008, and critics including Kane have called for an investigation of why Sandusky was not charged sooner. The attorney general’s office has defended the pace of the Sandusky investigation as a reflection of prosecutors’ methodical approach.
Asked whether he was satisfied with the investigation, Freed said, “the effectiveness of the case … speaks for itself with the conviction.”
“I will never be able to answer the questions of whether things were done for political purposes. Those questions are for other people to answer,” he said.
If elected, Freed said he would establish two new units — one focusing on cyber-crime and a special victims unit that would include a victim advocate, to expedite action on cases district attorneys refer to the attorney general because of potential conflicts or other problems.
Freed said he also plans to empanel a task force to scrutinize the use of “bath salts” and other synthetic drugs.
Asked whether he is a gun owner, Freed said he owns one handgun and keeps it at his office.
“I don’t carry it with me. … The only time that I use it is to qualify with it, do some target shooting every year,” he said.
Freed said he supports a bill to overhaul the state’s wiretapping law for the first time in 14 years, calling it reasonable proposal that would help law enforcement. A version passed by the House, among other things, would allow people to record conversations without other parties’ consent if they believe it may provide evidence of a serious crime.
Freed said the current law, which requires mutual consent, bars incriminating recordings from being admitted as evidence even though modern technology makes recording easier than ever.
The proposal would “catch us up with current technology,” he said. “The possibility is certainly out there that people can record themselves being victimized on their … smartphones and that could be valid evidence that we’re artificially unable to use.”