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Research in Brief: Eyewitness Identifications: A National Survey on Procedures

NCJ Number
Police Chief Volume: 80 Dated: September 2013 Pages: 14-15
Nyerere Davidson; Brett Chapman .
Date Published
September 2013
2 pages
This article reports on the results of a NIJ-funded project to develop and conduct a nationally representative survey that collected statistical data and descriptions on current policies, practices, and training protocols related to law enforcement agencies' eyewitness identification process .
The survey focused on the assessment of agency progress and change since the 1999 publication of NIJ's "Eyewitness Evidence: A Guide for Law Enforcement" (Eyewitness Evidence Guide). The survey examined five eyewitness procedures: photo lineups, show-ups, live line-ups, mug shot searches, and composites. Survey results show that law enforcement agencies use a variety of eyewitness identification procedures, with photo lineups being the most common. A significant number of agencies have not fully implemented the recommendations of the 1999 NIJ research report related to interviewing witnesses, training officers on how to conduct a lineup, and instructing witnesses before the lineup. The study recommends four actions by law enforcement agencies. First, review the International Association of Chiefs of Police's (IACP's) upcoming publication that details outcomes from the recent national Wrongful Conviction Summit, which recommends investigative best practices, including the use of eyewitness identification, to avoid wrongful arrests. Second, attend the October, 2013, NIJ plenary session at the 120th Annual IACP Conference, which will review the aforementioned recommendations. Third, review the IACP's Model Policy on Eyewitness Identification. Fourth, read "A National Survey of Eyewitness Identification Procedures in Law Enforcement Agencies." Web sites for accessing these resources are provided.