Eyewitness Identification: An Update on What Chiefs Need to Know

The police properly view their role as detecting what crime has been committed and who, in fact, committed it and who, in fact, did not. The investigative stage may be controlled by legal rules but it is not part of the adversary system and the allegiance of the police is to the truth. They have no mandated role to play for the prosecution or the defense . . . the investigator’s duty is not to present the best case, it is to present the truth.”1 So, it is incumbent upon police to adopt investigative procedures, including eyewitness identification procedures, best designed to get at the truth.

In the October 2008 issue of Police Chief, the authors challenged the law enforcement community to take on the task of improving eyewitness procedures, protocols, and training by including the adoption of standardized instructions, written protocols, and in-depth training.2 Some jurisdictions took that call to heart and have reviewed and revised their identification procedures, policies, and training.