Virginia Law Enforcers Slow to Adopt New Suspect ID Protocols


Some members of the Virginia State Crime Commission expressed frustration this at the pace that law enforcement agencies are making in adopting practices to curb suspect misidentifications, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. DNA has shown victim and witness misidentification to be the most frequent contributor to wrongful convictions. In 2005, the General Assembly directed that a model identification policy be created and that departments have written lineup polices. Last year, the crime commission learned that at least a quarter of 127 law enforcement agencies surveyed still had no written policy and that many with written policies used procedures that fell short of the model policy.

“We thought the law enforcement agencies would want to do the right thing and that when you show them best practices that they would segue into that,” said Del. Robert B. Bell, R-Albemarle, the commission chairman. The commission did not pursue legislation last year that would require adoption of the model procedures for conducting photo spreads and in-person lineups out of concern, among other things, that they might jeopardize some ongoing cases.

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