A great deal of research has been aimed at identifying the factors that produce errors in eyewitness identification. However, most of this work has been conducted in laboratory environments using undergraduates and naive lay persons as research participants. Little information is available on what police officers do in the course of their identification activities. The present research investigated the procedures that police officers report employing when constructing and administering eyewitness identification lineups. We developed a survey that addresses a number of these issues, including experience, sources of lineup foils, lineup formation and display, lineup fairness evaluation, presence of suspect's attorney, witness instructions, historical records, and legal challenges. Surveys were sent to 500 US police jurisdictions; 220 were returned. Several survey items showed results consistent with previous laboratory research, however police officers reported using some procedures that are different from those established as most effective in the research literature. This paper summarizes the results of our survey and discusses the implications for future research and forensic procedures.
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Document Type: Research Article
Department of Psychology North Carolina State University 640 Poe Hall 27695-7801 Raleigh, NC
Department of Psychology University of Texas at El Paso 79968-0553 El Paso, TX
March 1, 2004