Eyewitness Identification

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Eyewitness Identification

Policy Center Resource

Law enforcement agencies should develop evidence-based guidelines for effectively conducting eyewitness identifications in order to maximize the reliability of identifications, minimize erroneous identifications, and gather evidence that conforms to contemporary eyewitness identification protocols. These documents recognize that the sequential and simultaneous approaches are both valid methods of conducting an identification procedure and do not recommend one over the other. However, regardless of the method that an agency decides to utilize, the basic procedures outlined in these document should be followed.

These documents establish guidelines for eyewitness identification procedures involving showups, photo arrays, and lineups. Erroneous eyewitness identifications have been cited as the factor most frequently associated with wrongful convictions. Therefore, in addition to eyewitness identification, all appropriate investigative steps and methods should be employed to uncover evidence that either supports or eliminates the suspect identification.

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