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Bureau of Criminal Apprehension

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety
 

Eyewitness Identification Procedures

Eyewitness Identification is a powerful tool in criminal investigations. However, great care must be used to ensure procedures used by law enforcement are sound and follow established best practices to prevent misidentification. The following tools and resources are designed to provide you with information to ensure sound procedures that create greater accuracy and reliability in your lineups. Using these resources and techniques, we can effectively work to identify perpetrators of crimes while better protecting the innocent.

Best practices

The National Academy of Sciences, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the BCA recommend the following practices to improve the accuracy of witness identification.

  1. Blind/Blinded Administration: The officer administering the lineup is unaware of the suspect's identity, or if that is not practical, the administrator is "blinded" using a technique such as the folder shuffle method that prevents him or her from seeing which lineup member is being viewed by the witness.
  2. Instructions: Prior to the procedure, the witness should be instructed that the perpetrator may or may not be in the lineup.
  3. Proper Use of Non-Suspect Fillers: Non-suspect "fillers" used in the lineup should match the witness' description of the perpetrator.
  4. Confidence Statements: Immediately after an identification is made, the eyewitness should provide a statement in his or her own words that articulates the level of confidence in the identification.

Roll-call video training resources

The following videos have been created to provide roll-call training regarding show-ups, photo arrays, and live lineups. the following videos have been created to provide roll-call training regarding show-ups, photo arrays, and live lineups. They were created by the IACP and the Norwood Police Department to provide training on best practices for eyewitness identification procedures.

  1. Episode 1: General Overview
  2. Episode 2: Initial Response
  3. Episode 3: Show-Ups
  4. Episode 4: Photo Arrays
  5. Episode 5: Live Lineups
  6. Folder Shuffle Technique Video Overview

Policy and instructional resource links