A Hennepin County, Mn., test of the “sequential” police lineup technique has shown promising results, indicating that the procedure can reduce the frequency of innocent people being mistakenly identified as suspects, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Minneapolis and three suburban police departments experimented for a year with the method. Witnesses were shown six pictures one after another by an officer unfamiliar with the case. Traditionally, “six-pack” photo lineups are shown all at once to a witness by the investigator handling the case.
Using either method, witnesses identify the suspect about half the time. Witnesses in the county’s study picked the wrong person only 8 percent of the time compared with up to 25 percent in “six-pack” lineups studied. Sequential lineups also are used in Seattle, parts of North Carolina, and all of New Jersey. “The idea is to have the right person charged and not have the wrong person free and out doing more crimes,” said County Attorney Amy Klobuchar, who helped set up the study. More than 400 law enforcement officials from around Minnesota are expected to attend a Minneapolis conference today to hear the test results and to learn how to implement the lineup technique.