|Line up procedures need a tune up|
|Written by Mark Nichols|
The last thing most people want to hear about after the Casey Anthony verdict is wrongful convictions. But despite the emotions generated by high profile, media-event criminal trials, law enforcement groups in Florida recently encouraged agencies to adopt standard line-up procedures to reduce errors and lawsuits. Law enforcement agencies statewide are being asked to adopt new standards for using eyewitnesses to identify crime suspects, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and other organizations recently announced.
FDLE, Florida Sheriffs Association, Florida Police Chiefs Association and the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association are asking every law enforcement agency in Florida to adopt the standards for police line-ups. The standards apply to both in-person and photo line-ups.
The main recommendation is that line-ups should be conducted by an administrator who does not know the suspect in order to ensure impartiality. In cases where that just isn’t possible, the administrator should not know the order in which photos are being presented to eyewitnesses.
The standards are nearly identical to those recommended by the Florida Innocence Commission last June. That group has no legal authority. Two bills were introduced in the Legislature that would have required law enforcement agencies to follow similar standards, but neither passed.
So the sheriffs and chiefs associations and the FDLE are asking local agencies to adopt the standard procedures of their own volition. How many agaencies will adopt the new standards obviously remains to be seen.
“The goal here was to provide some consistency throughout the state and to really take a look at our policies and procedures and to improve them,” said Amy Mercer, executive director of the Florida Police Chiefs Association.
“These contemporary standards create strong protocols and high levels of accountability for Florida law enforcement. Our criminal investigations will be improved,” FDLE Commissioner Gerald Baily said in a press release.