In August 2007, as it was becoming evident that Dallas was becoming "ground zero for criminal justice change," in the words of Innocence Project of Texas founder Jeff Blackburn, Glenna Whitley wrote that faulty eyewitnesses were partially to blame for the convictions of so many innocent men. Which is why, earlier this year, the Dallas County District Attorney's Office and the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Institute began taking a good look at how the city goes about ID'ing criminal suspects. But that's only the first step, according to The Justice Project, which yesterday released a study revealing that "only 12% of Texas law enforcement agencies have any written policies or guidelines for the conduct of photo or live lineup procedures."
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Not all departments in the state responded to the survey: 1,034 were contacted; 750 got back to the Project. But of those, "only 88 had any written protocols regarding either photographic or live lineups." Locally, Lewisville, Richardson and University Park rank among your better departments when it comes to conducting its lineups. Indeed, UP's policy says that its officers must “create a consistent appearance between the suspect and the fillers with respect to any unique or unusual feature (e.g. scars, tattoos, facial hair) used to describe the perpetrator by artificially adding or concealing that feature.” Yes, but that's only because University Park can afford the make-up artist. --Robert Wilonsky