84% of Police Agencies Have No Written Eyewitness ID Policies


Eighty-four percent of U.S. police agencies have no written policies for handling eyewitness identifications despite long-standing federal guidelines, says USA Today, citing a report by the Police Executive Research Forum for the National Institute of Justice. Sixty-four percent of agencies had no formal standard for photo displays of potential suspects. Flaws in eyewitness ID contribute to 75 percent of convictions overturned through DNA testing, says the Innocence Project, which uses DNA testing to challenge criminal convictions. More than 300 people have been exonerated since 1989 through post-conviction DNA testing. Though witnesses always have been an integral part of criminal investigations, there has been “growing recognition” that eyewitness identifications are often unreliable, says the report. Some problems have been associated with faulty memories of specific incidents and unwitting or undue influence exerted by investigators.

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