Archive for Monday, March 25, 2013

Bill seeks to set police guidelines for eyewitness identifications

March 25, 2013


Eyewitness I.D. process changes

The Topeka Police Department, like many across the country, has updated their policy for eyewitness photo identifications. In the past, police often used a single sheet with six photos, known as a "six-pack." But research has found witness accuracy improves when shown photos one at a time. Det. Larry Falley of the Topeka Police explains the advantages of the new policy. Enlarge video

A bill proposed in the Kansas Senate last month seeks to cut down on eyewitness misidentifications in criminal cases.

Senate Bill 190, proposed by Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, Kan., would set guidelines — such as how many photos to use and how to display them to witnesses — for police when conducting photo and live lineups.

Studies have consistently shown that how police conduct photo lineups can play a role in influencing witnesses and potentially steer them toward the wrong suspect, said David Dodge, a policy analyst with the Innocence Project, a New York-based nonprofit that works to free the wrongfully convicted.

In Kansas, two men have been exonerated of crimes based in DNA evidence. One of those men, Joe Jones, was convicted of a 1985 rape in Topeka based primarily off mistaken eyewitness identification.

In the years since the Jones case, Topeka police have changed the way they conduct identifications, as have numerous other cities across the country.

In Jones' case, police used a one-sheet "six pack" photo array.

Topeka Det. Larry Falley said the department now uses a one-photo “sequential” lineup, in which the witness is shown photos one at a time. This has several advantages, Falley said. In sequential lineups, witnesses are less likely to guess than when there are multiple photos shown at once.

The proposed legislation would make such practices mandatory across the state.

"We're seeing a steady march on this," Dodge said of the movement toward such reforms.

The bill has been referred to the Senate's Judiciary Committee.


bearded_gnome 1 year ago

witness testimony is incredibly unreliable. the article omits that before presentation of any photo array/sequence a very thorough effort must be made to elicit any description elements without leading questions. . the old fashioned police artist was sometimes useful if done right who drew as directed by the witness.

our memories are not like videos, they are more like houseplants we keep in our minds, we feed water and nourish. trouble is, we can change them as time goes by.


Shelley Bock 1 year ago

I don't trust this legislature to devise any statute that is reasonable, fair and just. Simply doesn't seem to be part of their collective character.


Kirk Larson 1 year ago

Although we give it lots of credence in court, eye witness testimony is often the least reliable form of evidence. Just Google "did you see the gorilla".


Paul R Getto 1 year ago

Research on eyewitness testimony is not encouraging. We need physical evidence too.


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