Thursday, December 22, 2011

Model eyewitness ID policy includes sequential presentation

The new eyewitness ID model policy has been released by the Law Enforcement Management Institute at Sam Houston State. I haven't had a chance to vet the document in full, so will reserve comment except to happily note that the policy suggests both blind and sequential presentation of photo arrays, instead of showing them as a group. The model policy directs officers to "Present each photo to the witness separately (one at a time), in order. When the witness is finished viewing the photo, have the witness hand the photo back." That was one of the biggest bones of contention between social scientists, advocates and law-enforcement in the "working group" which your correspondent participated in on behalf of the Innocence Project of Texas, so that's a big get. They also appear to have reinstated a lot of the procedural detail that appeared in an earlier draft but was absent from the version put out prior to the recent public hearing.

More on this after the holiday, when I can go over it in detail and consult with folks who know more about such things than me. But I'm glad to see sequential presentation included, and pleased to see the process moving along on schedule.

Local Texas law enforcement agencies that do lineups or photo arrays must have detailed written policies in place by September 2012 governing how they're performed, and I suspect many will just adopt LEMIT's model policy and (one hopes) begin training on it. (At most departments, currently, lineup procedures may differ from detective to detective, with no written policies governing them.) As such, LEMIT's model will be critically important in setting a benchmark for what should be in those local policies. Given that mistaken eyewitness IDs account for 75-80% of false convictions, the statute is a big step forward.

See related Grits posts:


Anonymous said...


Trying to send you an e-mail but can't seem to find the address on the site?


Gritsforbreakfast said...