The Virginia State Crime Commission wants police officers to implement a more uniform approach when using lineups to identify suspects. But even after studies have been performed to help make that happen, only some progress has been made.
A number of factors impact how effective police lineups are for catching and prosecuting criminals. A witness must be able to accurately identify a suspect without manipulation. Depending on whether it’s a photographic or live lineup, photos must be clear enough for witnesses to distinguish specific characteristics, or the pool of possible perpetrators must be chosen without profiling. But only 74% of law enforcement agencies have uniform policies.
“You know we took this course because we didn’t want to invalidate a bunch of prosecutions and the thought would be that law enforcement agencies want to do the right thing and when you show them best practices they would slowly segue into that. This is is moving more slowly than I think we would have thought,” said Crime Commission Vice-Chair, Delegate Rob Bell.
Department of Criminal Justice Division Director Teresa Gooch says one challenge is making sure that new officers know the policies from the outset.
“I think it’s training and our ability–DCJS’s ability to reach out and to actually, work with the training academies because that’s where the foundation of all training starts–is at the academy,” said Gooch.