APD new policy for identifying suspects in photo lineup


by JESSICA HOLLOWAY / KVUE News and photojournalist MICHAEL MOORE


Posted on January 7, 2013 at 7:14 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 7 at 7:21 PM

AUSTIN -- A sweeping change is happening within the Austin Police Department. There's a new tool that's helping target bad guys and cut down on mistakes.

When you think of a police lineup, you probably picture old movies or TV shows where six people stand in a line behind a one-way glass.

These days, cops use computers and print images on computer paper for witnesses and victims to identify suspects.

"When we're showing the lineup we want the person to say, 'that's them,'" said Detective Steve Boline.

Boline and other officers took part in a study that says showing one person at a time instead of six produces better results.

"This is a way a lineup would be presented, all six photographs on the same page, we're trying to get away from that," Boline said.

"Sequential lineups, which is one photo at a time is the way to go in terms of limiting the potential of mistaken identify," said Chief Art Acevedo.

In a news conference Monday, Acevedo announced that from now on APD will show one person at a time. He said they will also follow the double-blind administration, meaning the only detectives that will give tests are the ones who don't know who the suspect really is.

"We're taking a huge step, a huge step into ensuring a person is not wrongfully identified, charged and in some instances, sadly convicted of a crime they didn't commit," Acevedo said.

The new policies take effect immediately. Acevedo said the double-blind policy took effect in 2010.