Frustrated with a string of wrongful convictions, the Dallas police department is now the nation's largest force to use sequential blind photo lineups — a widely praised technique designed to reduce mistakes made by witnesses trying to identify suspects.If Dallas can do this voluntarily, so should other Texas departments. With luck, the Legislature will pass the legislation in 2011 requiring such legislation like the bill that died amidst partisan bickering on voter ID this spring.
Dallas is not the first department to use the pioneering method. But experts hope that by using it in the county that leads the nation in exonerating wrongly convicted inmates, Dallas will inspire other departments to follow suit.
"If Dallas can do it ... then others are going to rise to the occasion," said Iowa State psychology professor Gary Wells, a national expert on police lineups.
The department switched to sequential blind lineups in April. Before that, Dallas police administered most lineups using the traditional six-pack — law-enforcement lingo for mounting six photos onto a folder and showing them to a witness or victim at the same time.
In sequential blind lineups, mug shots are shown one at a time. Detectives displaying the photos also don't know who the suspect is, which means they can't purposely or accidentally tip off witnesses.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Dallas PD moves to sequential, blind lineups
Though legislation that would have required similar changes in eyewitness ID policies at all Texas police agencies died in the end-of-session meltdown in the House of Representatives, the Dallas Police Department is moving ahead with a "sequential blind" lineup for photo arrays shown to witness. Reports AP: