Can I Get an Eyewitness?

Beginning January 1, the Dallas County District Attorney's Office and the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Institute will begin eyeballing the city's eyewitness identification procedures. That's if the city council today gives its blessing to the study, which it will. After all it's not costing the city a penny -- the Urban Institute's picking up the entire $300,000 cost of the study. And it's desperately needed.

Says the council's agenda for today, the Dallas Police Department will:

"Evaluate four protocols recognized as methods of eye-witness identification by administering photographic lineups to victims and witnesses of stranger to stranger robberies. The Dallas Police Department will work with the Urban Institute's researchers and analysts to adequately train officers on the use of technology and the providing of proper documentation necessary for data collection. During the joint field study, the Dallas Police Department will conduct a minimum of 800 photographic lineups, 200 from each of the four protocols. The Dallas County District Attorney's Office will provide feedback and updates on the status of the related criminal court cases."

It all goes according to plan, Dallas will act as sort of a petri dish in which local law-enforcement agencies will determine the best ID'ing methods, then take them nationally. Says the agenda today, "The primary goal of this [study] is to establish on the national level, an acceptable best and common method for law enforcement to administer photographic lineups to victims and witnesses of crime." --Robert Wilonsky

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