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The characteristics and results of eyewitness identification procedures conducted during robbery investigations in Houston, TX

William Wells (Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, USA)
Bradley Campbell (Department of Criminal Justice, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA)
Yudu Li (Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, USA)
Stryker Swindle (Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 21 November 2016

1115

Abstract

Purpose

Social scientific research is having a substantial impact on eyewitness identification procedural reforms. Police agencies in the USA have changed their eyewitness practices based on the results of social scientific research. The purpose of this paper is to contribute new knowledge by using a unique set of data to describe detailed aspects of eyewitness identification procedures conducted as part of robbery investigations in Houston, TX.

Design/methodology/approach

Robbery investigators completed surveys following identification procedures conducted during a six-month period of time. The sample includes 975 identification procedures. The analysis describes important features of identification procedures and places results in the context of existing research.

Findings

Results show that photo spreads were the most frequently used lineup procedure and selection outcomes were similar to recent field studies conducted in the USA. Results also show that the type of procedure, presence of a weapon, cross-race identifications, and viewing opportunity were significantly correlated with selection outcomes.

Originality/value

Police are reforming their eyewitness identification procedures based on findings from social science research. The study measures and describe the characteristics of a large sample eyewitness procedures conducted by investigators in the field.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the Houston Police Department’s Robbery Division’s investigators and supervisors for their valuable insights and extensive time and efforts that made this research possible. The authors also thank Acting Police Chief Martha Montalvo and Sergeant Stephen Morrison for sharing these data.

Citation

Wells, W., Campbell, B., Li, Y. and Swindle, S. (2016), "The characteristics and results of eyewitness identification procedures conducted during robbery investigations in Houston, TX", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 39 No. 4, pp. 601-619. https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-10-2015-0124

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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