21.00.170 LINEUPS, PHOTO MONTAGES AND SHOW-UPS (CALEA 42.2.11 & 42.2.12)
One of the most important steps in developing probable cause for arrest, charging and subsequent conviction is the positive identification of the suspect by victims and witnesses. The manner in which identification procedures are prepared, conducted, and documented can affect the reliability, fairness, and objectivity of the identification. Attention to the details of composition, witness instructions, conducting the identification procedure, and documenting the process will assure a sound and defensible identification.
Composition: Lineup or photo montage preparation procedures will result in a photo montage or lineup in which the suspect does not unduly stand out.
Witness Instructions: Instructions provided to the witness prior to presentation of a lineup, photo montage, or show-up will likely improve the accuracy and reliability of any identification obtained from the witness and can facilitate the elimination of innocent parties from the investigation.
Identification procedures: An identification obtained through a carefully choreographed lineup, photo montage, or show-up conducted following the procedures specified in this document will have stronger evidentiary value than one obtained without these procedures.
Documenting the process: Preparing a complete and accurate record of the outcome of the identification procedure improves the strength and credibility of the results obtained from the witness. This record can be a critical document in the investigation and any subsequent court proceedings.
Composition of Photo Lineups and Photo Montages
Fair composition of photo lineups and photo montages enable witnesses to provide more accurate identification or non-identification.
The investigator shall compose the lineup or photo montage in such a manner that the suspect does not unduly stand out.
In composing a photo lineup or photo montage, the investigator should:
1. Include only one suspect photo in each identification procedure.
2. Select fillers (photos of non-suspects) based on one of the following criteria:
a. When there is an adequate description of the suspect provided by the witness, select fillers who generally fit that description; or
b. When there is a limited/inadequate description of the suspect provided by the witness, or the description differs significantly from the suspect, select fillers who resemble the suspect in significant features.
3. Include a minimum of five fillers per identification procedure.
4. Complete uniformity of features is not required. Avoid using fillers who so closely resemble the suspect that a person familiar with the suspect might find it difficult to distinguish the suspect from the fillers.
5. Create a consistent appearance between the suspect and fillers with respect to any unique or unusual feature (e.g., scars, tattoos) used to describe the suspect by artificially adding or concealing that feature.
6. Consider placing the suspect photo in different positions in each lineup or montage, across cases and with multiple witnesses in the same case. Position the suspect photo randomly in the identification procedure.
7. When composing photo montages, do not present the suspect photo in the first position.
8. When showing a new suspect, avoid reusing fillers in lineups shown to the same witness.
9. If multiple photos of the suspect are reasonably available to the investigator, select a photo that resembles the suspect description or appearance at the time of the incident.
10. Once completed, and prior to presenting it to witnesses, critically view the photo montage to ensure that the suspect does not unduly stand out.
11. Ensure that no writing or information concerning previous arrest(s) (e.g. BA numbers) is visible to witnesses.
12. Preserve the presentation order of the photo montage. In addition, the photos themselves should be preserved in their original condition.
Prior to presenting a sequential photo lineup or six pack photo montage, the investigator should instruct the witness that:
1. He/She will be asked to view a group of individuals.
2. It is just as important to clear innocent persons from suspicion as to identify guilty parties.
3. Individuals present in the lineup or depicted in the photos comprising the montage may not appear exactly as they did on the date of the incident because features such as head and facial hair are subject to change.
4. A photo of the person who committed the crime may or may not be present.
5. If the witness believes the photo of the person who committed the crime is present, the witness should inform the investigator or officer.
6. The officer or investigator will ask the witness to state, in his/her own words, how certain he/she is of any identification.
Avoid making statements to the witness that could unduly influence his/her identification.
Additional instructions related to sequential lineups and photo montages: If the investigator or officer presenting the photographs does NOT know the suspect, either a sequential photo lineup or a six pack photo montage may be utilized; however, the sequential photo lineup method is recommended.
1. Individual photos will be viewed one at a time.
2. The people in the photos will be viewed in random order.
3. Take as much time as needed making a decision about each person or photo before moving to the next.
All persons or photos will be presented, even if identification is made.
The identification procedure should be conducted in a manner that promotes the reliability, fairness, and objectivity of the witness’ identification.
The investigator shall conduct the identification procedure in a manner conducive to obtaining accurate identification or non-identification decisions and shall employ procedures that avoid prejudicing the witness.
If the suspect is known to the investigator or officer, the six pack style (i.e.- six photos on the same sheet) photo montage should be used. When presenting a photo montage, the officer or investigator should:
1. Provide viewing instructions to the witness as outlined in the previous section.
2. Confirm that the witness understands the nature of the photo montage procedure.
3. Avoid saying anything to the witness that may influence his/her selection.
4. If identification is made, avoid reporting to the witness any information regarding the individual he/she has selected prior to obtaining his/her statement of certainty.
5. Record any identification results and witness’ statement of certainty.
6. Document in writing the photo lineup procedures, including:
a. Identification information and sources of all photos used.
b. Names of all persons present at the photo lineup.
c. Date and time of the identification procedure.
7. Instruct the witness not to discuss the identification procedure or its results with other witnesses involved in the case.
If necessary, lineups will be conducted at the Seattle Police Department in accordance with their policies and procedures.
When conducting a show-up, the investigator should:
1. Determine and document, prior to the show-up, a description of the suspect.
2. Transport the witness to the location of the detained suspect to limit the legal impact of the suspect’s detention.
3. When multiple witnesses are involved, separate witnesses and instruct them to avoid discussing details of the incident with other witnesses.
4. Caution the witness that the person he/she is looking at may or may not be the suspect. Avoid making statements to the witness that could unduly influence his/her identification.
5. Obtain and document a statement of certainty for both identifications and non-identifications.
Documenting the Process
Photo Lineups and Photo Montages
The record of the outcome of the identification procedure should accurately and completely reflect the identification results obtained from the witness.
When conducting an identification procedure, the investigator shall preserve the outcome of the procedure by documenting any identification or non-identification results obtained from the witness.
When conducting an identification procedure, the officer or investigator should:
1. Record identification or non-identification in writing, including the witness’ own words regarding certainty.
2. Include investigator’s observation regarding the manner in which the identification occurred. (i.e. Immediate recognition of the identified individual, process of elimination, time taken to make identification, etc.)
3. Ensure results are signed and dated by the witness.
4. Ensure that no materials indicating previous identification results are visible to the witness.
5. Ensure that the witness puts no marks on any materials that will be used in other identification procedures.
The record of the outcome of the field identification procedure should accurately and completely reflect the identification results obtained from the witness. It improves the strength and credibility of the identification or non-identification results obtained from the witness and can be a critical document in the investigation and any subsequent court proceedings.
When conducting a show-up, the officer or investigator shall preserve the outcome of the procedure by documenting any identification or non-identification results obtained from the witness.
When conducting a show-up, the officer or investigator should:
1. Document the time and location of the procedure.
2. Record both identification and non-identification results in writing, including the witness’ own words describing their level of certainty about the identification.
3. Include officer’s or investigator’s observations regarding the manner in which the identification occurred. (e.g. immediate recognition of the identified individual, time taken to make identification, etc.)