Police lineups: Are they reliable?

The lineup’s objective is to gather significant evidence for a criminal prosecution. The “simultaneous” lineup, the “sequential” lineup, and the “multiple-identification” lineup are three different variations of what is regarded as a crucial component in any police investigation.

The simultaneous lineup

The simultaneous lineup is the most traditional and well-known kind. The suspect and at least five “fillers” with comparable physical characteristics are assembled by police personnel. The fillers might be selected among persons who have already been linked to similar crimes. Then, these six are put in a random order. The police officer will: With the district attorney and defense counsel present, and the witness standing behind a one-way glass mirror,

  1. Clearly explain how to assess the evidence to the witness and warn them that people might not seem the same as they did on the day of the crime.
  2. Tell anyone watching the lineup not to speculate about the suspect’s whereabouts or identity.
  3. Ensure that each person in the queue identifies themselves through voice and movement.
  4. Refrain from addressing the witness in a way that would sway his or her decision.
  5. If an identification is established, refrain from giving the witness any details about the chosen person before declaring your certainty.
  6. Inquire aloud about the victim’s level of confidence in identification.
  7. Document the identification outcomes in writing, as well as using photos or videos.
  8. Tell the witness not to talk about the lineup with anybody.

The sequential lineup

A “sequential” lineup involves the suspect being examined one at a time in an arbitrary order. The witness will be given as much time as required to choose whether to go on to the following individual.

Even if the victim has previously made an identification, all line-up members are shown to them in a sequential lineup. Due to the lesser danger of comparison across people, recent Department of Justice research have indicated that witnesses are more likely to correctly identify the guilty person in a sequential lineup.

The multiple-identification lineup

The “multiple-identification” lineup was eventually created with the aid of psychologists; according to a recent research, this form offers the best evidence for prosecutors.

In this style, the witness recognizes the offender from a series of displayed images. The witness first only sees the suspect’s face; after looking at the faces, the witness is shown a series of body pictures or verbal audio recordings. This kind of multiple lineup is intended to provide improved identification accuracy.

Do they really work?

So, now that you are aware of how lineups operate, the question of their dependability still remains.

The validity of police lineups is a contentious issue. Many lineups are “tainted with alarming frequency,” which refers to an officer pressuring a victim to name the person they believe to be the subject.

A study by the Innocence Project, a nonprofit that employs DNA testing to overturn erroneous convictions, found that 60 of the 82 exonerations were the result of lineup identification errors. To increase the trustworthiness of an eyewitness identification, states all around the country have amended their lineup laws. These modifications include:

  • A different investigator from the case’s lead investigator should run the lineup. According to a National Science Foundation research published in May 2005, many detectives unintentionally sway a witness’ selection from a lineup by using body language and eye contact.
  • The lineup should be constructed such that the suspect does not stick out.
  • The witness should be informed prior to the lineup that the culprit might not be among those in it.

While it might not be the most failsafe tool in the criminal investigation handbook, police lineups aren’t going away any time soon. With new developments in methodology from other disciplines, when the weeping lady points out the bad guy, she’ll have better odds of picking the right one.