News 03.22.18

Law Enforcement Officials Urge Louisiana to Pass Law Mandating Eyewitness ID Best Practices

The Times Picayune has published an oped by two law enforcement officials calling on Louisiana lawmakers to pass a law requiring police to use science-based eyewitness identification procedures.  William Brooks III, chief of the Norwood, Massachusetts Police Department, and Major Michael Smathers, who serves in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, write:

Of the 354 DNA-based exonerations in this country, nearly three out of four involved a mistaken identification. Senate Bill 38 would mandate a scientifically proven method that would greatly reduce the chance for any future case in Louisiana, and that is why we are such strong supporters of this measure. In half of these cases the exoneration led to the guilty party, but only after they had gone on to commit 150 additional crimes, 80 of which were rapes and 35 of which were murders. These numbers may sound cold and clinical, but as officers, we have all seen the faces of victims and their families and know all too well what grief, trauma and loss look like.

Change is hard. Accepting mandates from legislatures rather than our own leaders is even harder (and we have struggled with this on many issues, too). As senior police executives who have implemented these proposals ourselves, we have gone all over the United States advocating for these changes. We know it is feasible to successfully implement them here in Louisiana.

Read the full oped here.

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