Cover Story

A team of psychologists is guiding U.S. and Canadian police on how to implement fair criminal lineup procedures, based on nearly 30 years of research.

Psychologists John Turtle, PhD, Roderick C. Lindsay, PhD, and Gary L. Wells, PhD, outline their lineup recommendations for police in the March 2003 issue of The Canadian Journal of Police and Security Services (Vol. 1, No. 1). They advise police to:

  • Select fillers to appear in lineups that fit a witness's description of the perpetrator.

  • Instruct witnesses that the person who committed the crime may not be in the lineup.

  • Do not say anything that may influence the witness's decision in identifying a person from the lineup, such as by providing any information about lineup members.

  • Use a sequential method by presenting photographs one at a time to witnesses and having them make a decision about a photo before viewing the next.

  • Record in writing both identification and nonidentification lineup results, including witnesses' statements--in their own words--about their identification certainty.