Date of Award

Spring 2018


Capstone - Open Access


Criminology & Criminal Justice, Minors in Psychology, and Law Ethics and Society

First Advisor

Alicia Malone


Improper police lineups often lead to the misidentification of a suspect in particular cases. These mistakes could potentially have detrimental effects on someone’s freedom because eyewitness identifications hold so much weight in court proceedings. If a witness or victim is certain they can identify the suspect, jurors are likely to believe them whether the witness is right or wrong. Eyewitness misidentification is one of the leading causes of wrongful convictions (The Innocence Project, 2017). The current research employs qualitative in depth interviews with police officers from local and state departments. The interviews asked about police procedures for conducting simultaneous and sequential line-ups including presentations through both photo and live line ups. The purpose of my project is to compare the procedures that are currently being used in local and state police departments with the most up to date research evidence in an effort to improve the reliability and accuracy in properly identifying the correct suspect in criminal cases. Analysis of the interviews suggest that both local and state police departments have clear policies and procedures around identification procedures. All officers discussed the importance of unbiased lineups, however, the majority of the officers said their department uses simultaneous not sequential lineups which is inconsistent with the literature. For example, the research suggests that sequential line up results in more accurate identifications whereas simultaneous and show-up lineups lead to higher error rates. Based on the interviews, I make recommendations in order to improve police department policies surrounding lineups and eyewitness identification of suspects in criminal cases.