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National Survey of Eyewitness Identification Procedure in Law Enforcement Agencies, 1994-2012 (ICPSR 34274) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

The data results from a study conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) designed to obtain the first nationwide assessment of the state of the criminal justice field regarding eyewitness identification procedures used by law enforcement agencies. PERF designed and conducted a survey of 619 police departments across the United States. The study focused on the departments training and policy when conducting eyewitness identification; particularly the study examined the use of "blind" administrators and the use of simultaneous or sequential presentation to the witness. The number of lineup members, witness instructions, police training, number of witness viewings and recording of the witness statements were also examined. A pilot test of the survey was conducted prior to the study.

Access Notes

  • One or more files in this study are not available for download due to special restrictions ; consult the restrictions note to learn more. You can apply online for access to the data. A login is required to apply for access.

    A downloadable version of data for this study is available however, certain identifying information in the downloadable version may have been masked or edited to protect respondent privacy. Additional data not included in the downloadable version are available in a restricted version of this data collection. For more information about the differences between the downloadable data and the restricted data, please refer to the codebook notes section of the codebook. Users interested in obtaining restricted data must complete and sign a Restricted Data Use Agreement, describe the research project and data protection plan, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

Dataset(s)

Eyewitness Identification Procedure Data - Download All Files (47.1 MB)

Study Description

Citation

Murphy, Gerard, Molly Griswold, Bruce Kubu, Daniel Woods, Colleen Berryessa, Kevin Greene, and Jacob Berman. National Survey of Eyewitness Identification Procedure in Law Enforcement Agencies, 1994-2012. ICPSR34274-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research[distributor], 2014-03-07. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR34274.v1

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (2010-IJ-CX-0032)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   case processing, evaluation, evidence, eyewitness memory, police departments, policy analysis, suspect identification, testimony, training, witnesses

Smallest Geographic Unit:   region

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1994--2012

Date of Collection:  

  • 2010--2012

Unit of Observation:   law enforcement agency

Universe:   All functioning United States police agencies listed within the National Directory of Law Enforcement Agencies (NDLEA) database in 2011, that perform full service police duties (N=15,685).

Data Types:   survey data

Data Collection Notes:

The study associated with the data (Murphy, Donaldson, Kubu, Woods, Berryessa, Greene, and Berman, 2012; NIJ 2010-IJ-CX-0032) discusses qualitative data collected from 30 interviews via telephone as a supplement to the survey. This data will not be released by ICPSR at this time.

Methodology

Study Purpose:   The purpose of the study was to create the first nationwide assessment of the criminal justice system regarding eyewitness identification procedures used by law enforcement agencies including through conducting a national survey of a random stratified sample of law enforcement agencies in the United States regarding their eyewitness identification policies, training, and police procedures.

Study Design:  

The Eyewitness Identification Survey was developed in consultation with a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) comprised of academic researchers and law enforcement experts. The survey was fielded in order to evaluate the current eyewitness identification policies and practices in law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. A focus group of the eight TAG members examined the major issues to be included in the survey and to identify questions that would effectively evaluate current practices in the field. The draft of the Eyewitness Identification Survey was sent to representatives from nine law enforcement agencies in June and July of 2011. Agencies were chosen based on their past experiences with and expertise regarding eyewitness identification procedures and policy development. These pilot testers were asked to complete the survey and make margin notes concerning questions about the form and content. Each person was then contacted via telephone to discuss the survey. The final version of the survey was made available to respondents online as well as in hard copy.

The National Eyewitness Identification Survey was distributed to a random stratified sample of law enforcement agencies throughout the United States (n=1,377). Hard copies of the survey were mailed to agencies on three separate occasions between August 17 and October 25, 2011. Reminder letters were sent to non-responding agencies in five separate waves between October 18, 2011 and January 11, 2012. Reminder telephone calls were placed to a number of non-respondent agencies between January 17 and January 24, 2012. A total of 619 completed surveys were returned.

When the surveys were returned they were recorded and reviewed for completion. Surveys with information that was considered unclear, inconsistent, or missing were flagged. PERF staff members contacted respondents for all flagged surveys for clarification or missing response. Staff members attempted to contact respondents of missing data through mid January 2012.

Sample:  

The study contracted with Tailored Statistical Solutions, LCC (TSē) to draw a nationally representative sample of law enforcement agencies from the National Directory of Law Enforcement Agencies (NDLEA) database. In addition to the name and address of the current chief executive, NDLEA information included the population served by the law enforcement agency, the type of law enforcement agency, the number of officers in the agency, and the region (Northeast, Midwest, South, and West) in which the agency is located. The data base was cleaned to omit agencies that are defunct or do not perform full service police duties. After cleaning the database contained information on 15,685 law enforcement agencies.

The law enforcement agencies in the database were stratified by region, type, and size based on the number of sworn officers reducing the sample to 1,401 agencies. Of those, 24 agencies reported not using any eyewitness identification procedure and were not sent the survey. Of the 1,377 agencies sent the survey, 619 were completed.

Weight:   Each of the agencies selected for the sample was weighted (using variable FINALWTALL "WEIGHT") in order to account for population size.

Mode of Data Collection:   record abstracts, mail questionnaire, web-based survey

Data Source:

National Directory of Law Enforcement Agencies (NDLEA)

Description of Variables:  

The 515 variables contained in the study include:

1) Agency information.

2) Current policies including: instructions given to eyewitness pre-lineup, lineup procedure, lineup content, lineup presentation method, and behavioral influence of the lineup administrator.

Lineup procedures include: show up, photographic lineup, live lineup, composite, and mugshot search.

3) Historical agency experiences.

Response Rates:   Of the 1,377 agencies sent the survey, 619 completed the survey resulting in a response rate of 45 percent.

Presence of Common Scales:   none

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

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