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Back to Archives | Back to October 2008 Contents 

Eyewitness Identification: What Chiefs Need to Know Now

By Sheri H. Mecklenburg, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois; Mark R. Larson, Chief Deputy, Criminal Division, King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Seattle, Washington; and Patricia J. Bailey, Assistant District Attorney, Chief of the Special Litigation Bureau, New York County District Attorney’s Office (Manhattan), New York, New York


olice chiefs across the United States seek to implement eyewitness identification procedures that are most likely to lead to the identification of the guilty and are least likely to result in a false identification of an innocent suspect. Every police chief recognizes that there is room for improvement in eyewitness identification procedures. But today’s chiefs face conflicting and often confusing information in evaluating how best to improve eyewitness identification procedures. This article first discusses two frequently recommended yet controversial changes to eyewitness identification procedures: the sequential display of photos and the use of “blind” administrators. Although this article takes the position that the relative merits of the sequential, double-blind identification procedure remain unsettled, it advocates that DNA exonerations provide guidance for necessary improvements to training, protocols, and practices in eyewitness identification, independent of the ultimate resolution of the sequential, double-blind procedures. The article concludes with practical recommendations for genuine improvements to eyewitness identification practices that every police chief can, and should, adopt now.


Sequential, Double-Blind Eyewitness Identification Procedure


The sequential, double-blind eyewitness identification procedure involves two distinct components. First, the sequential component requires that photographs be displayed one at a time rather than side by side, with the witness required to make a decision on each photo before viewing the next.1 Advocates of this method argue that requiring a decision on each photo before looking at the next forces a witness to compare each photo only to the witness’s memory of the offender reducing the opportunity to compare to other photos in the array. These advocates hypothesize that this procedure prevents the witness from simply picking the “most similar” but not necessarily the correct photo.2

The blind-administrator component requires that the lineup be conducted by an individual who does not know the suspect’s identity and therefore cannot influence the witness (the procedure is sometimes referred to as double-blind because the witness viewing the photos also does not know which photo will be the suspect). The blind-administrator component initially was added as a safeguard against the increased risk of influence in the sequential method, where both the witness and the administrator were focused on one photo at a time.3 It has since gained popularity as a blanket measure to prevent improper police influence in all lineup procedures.

Initial research indicated that the sequential presentation of photos produced fewer false identifications than the traditional photo arrays, without affecting the rate of accurate identification rates, leading eyewitness researchers to conclude that the sequential method of identification was superior to the traditional photo array.4 Subsequent research, however, revealed that the sequential presentation actually resulted in a reduction in accurate identifications. In addition, not all laboratory studies supported the claim that the sequential method produced fewer false identifications.5 In fact, it became accepted that in five known categories, sequential arrays were more likely to increase the risk of false identifications: older witnesses, child witnesses, cross-racial identifications, multiple-perpetrator cases, and suspects who have undergone a change in appearance. 6 Recent laboratory research on sequential lineups shows no sequential advantage.7 Nevertheless, some researchers have continued to tout the sequential, blind lineup as a superior method of eyewitness identification.

Those not persuaded of the superiority of the sequential, blind lineup have raised two primary concerns: the applicability of the laboratory research to the real world and the legal and practical implementation issues present in the real world. Addressing the first concern, the laboratory experiments present short videos or staged events to “witnesses,” who are typically college students or paid volunteers. These participants then view a sequential or simultaneous photo array, presented either by an administrator (sometimes blind, sometimes not) or on a computer screen. Neither the videos nor the staged events capture the physical experience of a real crime; nor do the laboratory participants experience the same emotions as real victims or witnesses. The experiments do not account for the effect of violent crimes such as rape, robbery, or assault. The experimental scenarios use quick crimes involving strangers, which reflect neither crimes where the witness has prior familiarity with the offender nor crimes lasting longer than a few minutes. Furthermore, real eyewitnesses face very real and significant consequences when making a lineup decision, such as concern over identifying an innocent person, allowing the real offender to go free; fear of reprisal; or testifying in court. In addition, unlike real witnesses, whose reliability can be at least somewhat assessed through interviewing and through corroborating or conflicting evidence, identifications by the participants in the laboratory experiments are all treated the same, with no assessment of whether they were even paying attention.8

Concerns also arose over the legal viability of an identification process where a witness could pick the first or second person in the lineup, thereby reducing the lineup to a virtual showup—an event in which the witness has essentially one choice. In response to this concern, advocates of the sequential method offered an untested solution: continue showing the witnesses all the photos even after an identification has been made. However, such a solution does not address whether witnesses simply disregard any additional photos or, worse, perceive the continued showing of photos as a signal to reconsider the choice, thereby possibly affecting their confidence in their choices. Additional concerns arose about the effect of placing the offender’s photo in a later position in the sequential lineup, so that the witness, after rejecting three or four photos, thinks that options are running out and thus feels compelled to make a choice, any choice, from the remaining options. Furthermore, a witness who asks to view the photos for a second round (or more) before making a choice essentially has defeated the very purpose of the sequential presentation: eliminating the opportunity to compare the photos before making a choice.

Many of these concerns were brushed aside when DNA exonerations raised questions about the reliability of eyewitness identifications, either under traditional procedures or indeed under any circumstances. In the wake of the initial exonerations, the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ) assembled a study group to review and recommend eyewitness identification procedures. Although the study group made several recommendations, the group was divided over the sequential, double-blind procedures and ultimately concluded that field studies—that is, real-world studies—needed to be conducted before any sequential, double-blind procedures could be deemed\ superior.9 Nevertheless, it was not until 2004 that the first, and to date the only, such real-world study was undertaken: the Illinois Study on Eyewitness Identification.


Illinois Field Study


Results: On March 17, 2006, the Illinois State Police released a report on the first pilot program in the United States to collect field data on sequential, double-blind lineups and compared these data to concurrently collected field data on traditional lineups.10 The data, collected from more than 700 photo arrays and live lineups generated by three Illinois jurisdictions over a one-year period, provided valuable field information on many aspects of eyewitness identification. The data were analyzed separately by two renowned experts, who independently reached the same conclusions. The full report is beyond the scope of this article, but what was perhaps the most controversial point to come out of the results is that the Illinois data do not show that the sequential, double-blind lineup procedure reduced the rate of false identifications.

The Illinois data show that the sequential, double-blind lineups recorded a rate of known false identifications, measured by the number of witnesses choosing filler photos instead of the suspect’s photo, of 9.2 percent, compared with the known false identification rate of 2.8 percent for traditional procedures.11 The data also show that the sequential, double-blind method suffered a 15 percent reduction in suspect identifications, exactly equal to the drop in known accurate identifications observed in the research experiments.12 In summary, the Illinois data demonstrate that the sequential, double-blind lineup, when compared with the traditional method, produced a higher rate of known false picks and a reduction in the rate of suspect picks, the latter effect predicted even by advocates of the procedure. The Illinois data are consistent with field data collected by other jurisdictions, including New York City. The Office of the District Attorney in Queens collected data on traditional live lineups over a five-year period, which showed a known error rate ranging from 0.58 percent to 5.62 percent.13 The New York City Police Department (NYPD) collected data on lineups in Brooklyn, discussed later in more detail, which showed a 1 percent known error rate.14 The Illinois study is also consistent with the data collected in Hennepin County, Minnesota.15 It is likely that factors such as probable cause, witnesses’ understanding of the serious consequences of an identification, witnesses’ prior familiarity with offenders, and other real-life factors contribute to the lower rate of known errors in the field, as compared with those generated by laboratory experiments. Recent scientific research showing that the brain has a specialized system dedicated to processing faces may explain, in part, the low overall error rates in the real world.16

Implementation Issues: The Illinois pilot program also revealed implementation issues, in which the sequential procedure and the blind administrator presented separate challenges.17 The sequential procedure was relatively easy to implement with photo arrays, but it was more difficult to apply to live lineups, particularly in multiple-perpetrator cases. The use of blind administrators caused resource issues, which sometimes caused delays that resulted in adverse reactions from witnesses and victims and reduced the availability of officers for other police jobs. Officers in the participating agencies also saw the “blind” administrator as contrary to modern police emphasis on information sharing and the use of technology to spread information far and fast.18 Hennepin County reported similar implementation concerns, leading it afterward to “de-emphasize” the role of the blind administrator. Due to these implementation difficulties, most jurisdictions using blind administrators make it optional rather than mandatory.19


Response to the Illinois Pilot Project: Police Influence


Many practitioners and policy makers welcomed the analysis of real-life data as a genuine quest for the truth. Still, some advocates of the sequential, double-blind method of lineups have been resistant to the Illinois field data, which call into question conclusions drawn from some of the laboratory research.20 The harshest criticism has focused on the study’s design, claiming that the comparison of traditional, nonblind lineups to sequential, blind lineups is not sound because there were two distinct variables that may account for the results: the method of presentation and whether the administrator was blind.21 According to these critics, the rate of known false identifications in the traditional lineups was lower because the officers conducting those lineups knew the identity of the suspects and influenced the witnesses to identify suspects and avoid selecting fillers. These critics view the Illinois data as verification that police routinely influence witnesses to ensure that the suspect is identified.

Scientific analysis of the data shows that police influence over the witnesses was not the likely source of the lower error rates in the traditional lineups. One of the experts who analyzed the data compared various patterns found in the identifications and concluded that the patterns were “inconsistent with the investigator influence explanation.” 22 This expert found that in cases where police influence should have caused a higher level of witness confidence, no such effect occurred. The Queens lineup data support a similar conclusion. There, the presence of a prosecutor in each lineup created a safeguard against police influence, so that any influence likely was either nonexistent or undetectable. Given that the Queens and Illinois data are comparable and that the Queens data are not attributable to police influence, it is likely that the Illinois data are also not attributable to police influence.

Recent data collected on 1,052 live simultaneous lineups held in Brooklyn by the NYPD further indicate that the low error rate in Illinois is not due to police influence. Of the Brooklyn live lineups, 1,010 were nonblind (that is, the officer knew the identity of the suspect), with the remaining 42 conducted by a blind administrator. With a blind administrator, witnesses chose the suspect in approximately 71 percent of lineups; made zero filler picks; and failed to make an identification in 29 percent of lineups. The nonblind lineups resulted in slightly less than 69 percent suspect choices; approximately 1 percent filler identifications; and 30 percent no identifications—virtually identical results despite the use of nonblind procedures. Given that the use of a blind administrator did not change the identification rates in Brooklyn, it is not logical to assume that this was the determinative factor in Illinois.

The criticism of the Illinois comparison of the sequential, double-blind lineups with the traditional lineups also can be addressed simply by eliminating the comparison and looking solely at the 9.2 percent known error rate generated by the sequential, double-blind lineups. The question then becomes whether that 9.2 percent is an acceptable rate and whether other lineup methods that protect against police influence can achieve better results. Again, the Queens data, which had the safeguard against police influence, show known error rates over a five-year period significantly lower than the 9.2 percent error rate of the Illinois sequential lineups. Furthermore, other safeguards, such as proper instructions and witness-administered photo arrays through the use of laptops or other means, might adequately protect against inappropriate influence without the legal and practical problems observed in the sequential, double-blind procedures.23


DNA Exonerations


Even as advocates insist that a blind administrator is necessary to eliminate “inadvertent influence” by police, they have yet to identify the “inadvertent influence” that real-life witnesses notice, understand, and rely on to identify suspects whom they would not have otherwise chosen. When pressed, researchers claim that this “inadvertent influence” takes the form of specifically directing a witness to one lineup member, such as, “I noticed you passed on number 2. Take another look at number 2.”24 This is exactly the kind of deliberate conduct present in many cases where the suspect has later been exonerated through the use of DNA analysis, which is the result of, at best, poor training and, at worst, misconduct.

The case of Kirk Bloodsworth, the first death row inmate exonerated by DNA evidence, is often cited to show the problems inherent in relying on eyewitness identification to close a case. Five eyewitnesses mistakenly identified Bloodsworth as the perpetrator in the rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl, sending him to death row for a crime that he did not commit. The facts, however, show a case in which police and prosecutors disregarded descriptions inconsistent with the defendant’s appearance; disregarded witnesses who did not identify the defendant or insisted that the defendant was not the person they had seen; influenced the lineups by parading the defendant before the media on the weekend prior to the lineups; conducted an interrogation which fed the defendant information; and disregarded the physical evidence inconsistent with the defendant. In many ways, the case serves as a classic example of “confirmatory bias” by police and prosecutors. That is, the vast evidence collected in the case was analyzed with an eye toward only one conclusion—the guilt of the suspect.25 In yet another exoneration, officers opted for a show-up instead of a lineup even though the defendant had come into the station, and they also allowed the victim’s mother, who had not been present during the crime, to make an identification based on her belief that her daughter’s description of the offender resembled the only black resident of the apartment complex.26 Clearly, the sequential, blind procedures would not have prevented the eyewitness problems presented by these cases. Rather, these cases typify the sort of conduct that begs for better training, protocols, and supervision.27


Where to Go from Here


In light of the ongoing controversy surrounding the sequential, double-blind procedures,28 the NIJ recently convened a new study group to focus primarily on field studies undertaken by various police departments to test the value of both the sequential presentation and the blind administrator—essentially picking up where the Illinois study left off. These field studies represent a welcome step in the continuing dialogue over improving identification procedures. Nevertheless, the lessons of the DNA exonerations teach that police chiefs cannot sit idly by, awaiting the results of these field studies, without examining their agencies’ own practices now. Most cases of false identification do not leave chiefs scratching their heads, wondering what went wrong. Rather, any police chief reviewing DNA exonerations can recognize the lessons of ensuring better training, supervision, and protocols, from eyewitness interviews to identification procedures to reporting.

It might be easier if the answer were as simple as changing the identification process to the sequential, blind procedure. But the answers are far more complex and have much more to do with the basics of good policing. While the value of sequential, blind procedures is debated, training on eyewitness identification remains inconsistent, incomplete, and even nonexistent for many officers who conduct the procedure regularly. Officers often learn from other officers, repeating the mistakes of the past. It is no secret that training and protocols are often ad hoc, without ongoing meaningful review and direction by law enforcement agencies. Suggested instructions for dealing with witnesses might be decades old, or even nonexistent. Some agencies lack written protocols or other concrete guidelines, leaving the procedure to the discretion of each individual officer. Many agencies with protocols have not reviewed them in years—and particularly not in light of the errors exposed by the DNA exonerations.

State police chiefs associations should be at the forefront of both protocol development and the production of training materials, to provide leadership and direction and to harness resources vital to smaller jurisdictions that simply do not have the resources to develop materials on their own. Drawing on their own experiences, eyewitness research, case law, statutory law, and DNA exonerations, law enforcement agencies need to evaluate every aspect of eyewitness identification, including the following:

  • Standards and training for appropriate interviewing of eyewitnesses that does not influence their recollection but properly memorializes their recollection.

  • Standards and training for selecting fillers to ensure than no photo or lineup member stands out, including both the use of computers and other technology, as well as training to minimize obvious differences between lineup photos or participants.

  • Standard instructions to be given to all witnesses, giving serious consideration to standard witness admonitions that the offender may or may not be in the lineup and that witnesses should not assume that the administrator knows the identity of the suspect.

  • Consideration of supplying written instructions to witnesses, similar to Miranda warnings, and also of having witnesses sign these instructions, which not only protects the integrity of the process, but also protects the officers from claims of improper influence both in criminal proceedings and civil liability cases. (Despite initial concern that witnesses would be reluctant to sign, Illinois agencies encountered no serious implementation issues with adhering to a law requiring written admonitions signed by witnesses.)

  • Standards and training to raise officers’ awareness of potential influence and to guide officers on how to conduct themselves during lineups or photo arrays to eliminate any such influence on witnesses—for example, standing out of witnesses’ line of sight during the identification procedure.

  • Memorializing in writing eyewitnesses’ comments and nonverbal reactions at the time they make an identification and, if no comments are made that reflect the witnesses’ level of certainty, consideration of protocols that invite witnesses to express their certainty in their own words.

  • Standards and training on how lineup reports should reflect the results of the identification procedure. Often, lineup reports use vague and ambiguous terms such as “positive” or “tentative,” which do not reflect witnesses’ actual level of certainty. Also, these terms can mean different things to different investigators, as well as to judges and juries. Describing lineup results simply as “negative” can have even greater adverse consequences, as such a description does not distinguish between a witness who cannot make any identification (such as commenting, “I don’t know”) and a witness who states that the offender is not in the lineup—the latter being exculpatory information that must be reported.

  • Training on all these issues for every officer authorized to conduct eyewitness identification procedures. Some jurisdictions lack resources for such training, but state police chiefs associations can create video or computer training available to all officers in the state.

If the law enforcement community wants a say in how to improve eyewitness identification procedures, then it must lead the discussion.29 It cannot cede control of the discussion to those who lack the practical experience and knowledge to address the issues realistically and then complain when the discussion takes unrealistic directions. Examining current eyewitness identification procedures and adopting meaningful standards and training might be time-consuming and intensive endeavors, but they are processes that the law enforcement community cannot afford to put off any longer. Otherwise, chiefs could be forced to adopt procedures that, at best, do not enhance the reliability of eyewitness identifications and, at worst, actually reduce their reliability.

Police, policy makers, prosecutors, and defense attorneys all seek reliable and accurate eyewitness identification procedures. Field studies such as the Illinois pilot program are essential for testing the practical application of the experimental research to the real world. Future studies should continue to shed light on the benefits and drawbacks of various eyewitness identification procedures. Regardless of the results of these studies, the lessons of DNA exonerations should prompt progressive police chiefs to improve eyewitness identification protocols, practices, and training now.

All three authors are members of the NIJ Eyewitness Identification Study Group. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective employers or the U.S. Department of Justice. ■


Notes:

1Gary L. Wells et al., “From the Lab to the Police Station: A Successful Application of Eyewitness Research,” American Psychologist 55, no. 6 (June 2000): 581–598.
2Gary L. Wells and Eric P. Seelau, “Eyewitness Identification: Psychological Research and Legal Policy on Lineups,” Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 1, no. 4 (December 1995): 765–791.
3Gary L. Wells et al., “Eyewitness Identification Procedures: Recommendations for Lineups and Photospreads,” Law and Human Behavior 22, no. 6 (December 1998): 603–647.
4R. C. Lindsay and Gary L. Wells, “Improving Eyewitness Identifications from Lineups: Simultaneous versus Sequential Lineup Presentation,” Journal of Applied Psychology 70, no. 3 (1985): 556–564.
5Amina Memon and James Bartlett, “Effects of Verbalization on Face Recognition in Young and Older Adults,” Applied Cognitive Psychology 16, no. 6 (September 2002): 635–650; and Nancy Steblay et al., “Eyewitness Accuracy Rates in Sequential and Simultaneous Lineup Presentations: A Meta-Analytic Comparison,” Law and Human Behavior 25, no. 5 (October 2001): 459–473.
6Amina Memon and Fiona Gabbert, “Improving the Identification Accuracy of Senior Witnesses: Do Prelineup Questions and Sequential Testing Help?” Journal of Applied Psychology 88, no. 2 (April 2003): 341–347; Memon and Bartlett, “Effects of Verbalization on Face Recognition”; and Steblay et al., “Eyewitness Accuracy Rates.”
7See Curt A. Carlson, Scott D. Gronlund, and Steven E. Clark, “Lineup Composition, Suspect Position, and the Sequential Lineup Advantage,” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied 14, no. 2 (June 2008): 118–128.
8For a more thorough discussion of the differences between the laboratory experiments and the real world, see Sheri H. Mecklenburg, Patricia J. Bailey, and Mark R. Larson, “The Illinois Field Study: A Significant Contribution to Understanding Real World Eyewitness Identification Issues,” Law and Human Behavior 32, no. 1 (February 2008): 22–27.
9See U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, Eyewitness Evidence: A Guide for Law Enforcement, NCJ 178240, October 1999, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/178240.htm (accessed September 8, 2008).
10Report to the Legislature of the State of Illinois: The Illinois Pilot Program on Sequential Double-Blind Identification Procedures, March 17, 2006, http://www.chicagopolice.org/IL%20Pilot%20on%20Eyewitness%20ID.pdf (accessed September 8, 2008).
11Ibid., 38, table 3a. Although the study did not measure unknown errors of identification of innocent suspects, the use of filler identifications is an accepted indicator of errors in the field; see page 30.
12Ibid., 42, 45–46.
13Ibid., 43.
14See Addendum to the Report to the Legislature of the State of Illinois: The Illinois Pilot Program on Sequential Double-Blind Identification Procedures, June 19, 2006, http://eyewitness.utep.edu/Documents/IllinoisPilotStudyOnEyewitnessIDAddendum.pdf (accessed September 8, 2008), 11.
15The Hennepin County project, conducted around the time of the Illinois study, showed an 8 percent error rate in photo array identifications; see Amy Klobuchar, Nancy K. Mehrens Steblay, and Hilary Lindell Caligiuri, “Improving Eyewitness Identifications: Hennepin County’s Blind Sequential Lineup Pilot Project,” Cardozo Public Law, Policy, and Ethics Journal (April 2006): 381–414. However, the Hennepin County study did not test the recommended sequential procedure requiring witnesses to make a decision on each photo before viewing the next; instead, the study’s protocols called for witnesses to make a choice after seeing all the photos, the hallmark of the traditional, rather than the sequential, procedure. Furthermore, witnesses were permitted to—and many did—view all the photos in additional rounds before making a decision. See Addendum to the Illinois Report, 12; and Mecklenburg et al., “The Illinois Field Study:A Significant Contribution,” 24, n. 4.
16For a full discussion of the implementation issues, see The Illinois Pilot Program, 50–61.
17Robert S. Boyd, “The Ultimate Face-Recognition Tool Is in Our Heads, Researchers Say,” McClatchy Newspapers, August 21, 2008, http://www.mcclatchydc.com/226/story/49746.html/ (accessed September 16, 2008).
18As the smallest participating police department noted, with the push of a button, it could share a photo of a wanted offender with every officer as well as with surrounding jurisdictions.
19For Hennepin County’s implementation concerns, see Klobuchar et al., “Improving Eyewitness Identifications,” 381–414. For optional blind administrators, see The Illinois Pilot Program, 11–22.
20The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has sued the Illinois jurisdictions who participated in the Illinois study, in an attempt to have the study “reworked” by a researcher who has already committed to the superiority of the sequential procedure. See NACDL v. Superintendent of Chicago Police, et. al., 07 CH 03622, Circuit Court of Cook County.
21See, for example, Daniel L. Schacter et al., “Policy Forum: Studying Eyewitness Investigations in the Field,” Law and Human Behavior 32, no. 1 (February 2008): 3–5. This criticism is fully addressed in Mecklenburg et al., “The Illinois Field Study: A Significant Contribution.” The design of the study, of course, reflected the issue that was presented to and by the Illinois legislature, as well as the question posed by the law enforcement community: would sequential, double-blind lineups result in a lower rate of false identifications than traditional lineups? Moreover, the design was undertaken in consultation with various experts and policy advisers, some of whom became critics of the design only after the results became known.
22Ebbe B. Ebbesen, “Comments on IL Simultaneous v. Sequential Lineup Field Test,” May 2, 2006, http://www-psy.ucsd.edu/~eebbesen/SimSeqIL.htm (accessed September 8, 2008).
23See John Turtle, R. C. L. Lindsay, and Gary L. Wells, “Best Practice Recommendations for Eyewitness Evidence Procedures: New Ideas for the Oldest Way to Solve a Case,” Canadian Journal of Police and Security Services 1, no. 1 (Spring 2003): 5–18, offering the witness-administered laptop photo array as a form of blind administration.
24See, for example, Wells et al., “Eyewitness Identification Procedures: Recommendations for Lineups and Photospreads,” 628. The same article also cites “smiling” as an example of inadvertent influence. The most frequently cited example of “inadvertent influence” is Newsome v. McCabe, 319 F.3d 301 (7th Cir. 2003), but that case also involved a finding of deliberate coaching of the witnesses.
25Tim Junkin, Bloodsworth: The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA (Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2004).
26See William Gregory v. City of Louisville, 444 F.3d 725 (6th Cir. 2006).
27Some still argue that, regardless of the actual data or cases, a blind administrator provides a safeguard against police influence and thus is a “feel-good” measure. This ignores the proven implementation costs associated with blind administrators, such as the costs of taking officers from other police duties to act in this capacity (particularly when increasing the number of officers deployed on the street has proved effective in reducing crime). Police chiefs must address numerous and competing demands through limited resources and generally do not have the luxury of allocating manpower on a “feel-good” standard.
28Advocates continue to push for legislation requiring law enforcement agencies to implement the sequential, blind procedures. See, for example, Georgia House Bill 308 (2007), proposed title: Eyewitness Identification Accuracy Enhancement Act.
29Although the law enforcement community should consider bringing varying players to the table, it must be wary that some potential participants might have preconceived positions which could actually conflict with police goals of solving crimes and establishing the truth. In the end, it is the police who must drive the agenda, for it is the police who have the most invested in getting to the truth. See James B. Zagel, “Getting to Truth Before It Falls into the Hands of the Lawyers: Pursuing Accuracy in Criminal Cases,” Loyola Public Interest Law Reporter 11, no. 2 (Summer 2006): 17–20, 32–35, 44–46.

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From The Police Chief, vol. LXXV, no. 10, October 2008. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.








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