The group that oversees law enforcement training in Georgia has said it will significantly increase its courses for officers on eyewitness identification procedures this year.
Departments across the state have been working to improve identification procedures since a House of Representatives study committee found a lack of statewide standards. Rep. Stephanie Stuckley Benfield, a sponsor of identification reform efforts, said training is the key to improvement and that law enforcement agencies have been receptive.
"So much of this comes down to training," said the DeKalb County Democrat. "If you've got good training, then you're less likely to make mistakes."
…Keith Howard supervises the criminal investigations section of the Georgia Police Academy and helped expand the course for Georgia POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training Council)….
The training outlines correct preparation for the lineup when choosing participants or their photographs, the best practices for presenting the lineup and preserving the results through good documentation of what the witness intended.
A major point that both Rep. Benfield and Innocence Project officials have pushed for is a "blind administrator" to conduct the lineups. That's a police officer who has no knowledge of the investigation and could not influence a victim or eyewitness to select a suspect.
"You don't want to indicate the suspect to the witness," Chief Parker said. "They may feel undue pressure to identify the person."
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A 2007 study by the Georgia Innocence Project
found that 82% of Georgia law enforcement agencies had no policies in place for eyewitness identification procedures.
Read more and download training materials
at the POST website.