Do we do police lineups correctly?

One of the interesting sidebars from my conversation with criminal justice scholar David Harris from the University of Pittsburgh Law School is on the question of whether police do lineups correctly.

Harris – who’s in the Twin Cities today for a discussion at the University of Minnesota Law School about how police use science – says movie versions of police line-ups capture one essence of truth that research has verified: Bringing in all the suspects in at once is not the best way for victims to identify the correct suspect.

Instead, Harris said, agencies should bring in suspects one at a time. That way, he notes, victims won’t compare potential suspects to the other suspects in the room, but rather to the image they have in their head of the person who committed the crime. Harris said Ramsey County has adopted this technique but adds he wishes more jurisdictions would follow suit.

Here is the audio of that part of my interview with Harris:

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- Tom Weber, Daily Circuit

  • Prof. Preston Marks

    Again mr Harris attempts to influence the laymen in the field of CJ that police bring in ALL the suspects at the same time. This might be an excellent practice since the supected individuals have a belief that another suspect Is being given some limited immunity to testify against fellow conspirators . Mr Harris suggesting that all the suspects are thrown into the same lineup is an indication that theories he brings up are illegal resulting in the identification being tainted and thrown out. Line ups must contain one suspect with “fillers” whom are the same height, complexion, with similar facial hair. Mr Harris is Not a law enforcent expert but an attorney with a Juris Doctorate and not afforded the title of Dr. In academia and further more not permitted to instruct criminal justice courses other then legal or ethics in accredited universities. It is so easy to be critical without the working knowledge of police detectives