Doug Bedell — November 4, 2019, 11:27 am

Eyewitness Testimony Not Necessarily Reliable


The testimony of an eyewitness may not necessarily be a reliable security indicator, Dr. Jade Pumphrey of American Military University advises in a post on In Public Safety.

The problem may be as much with the questioners as those being questioned.

“During an investigation,” the post advises, “eyewitnesses may have several interactions with law enforcement. These interactions could influence the witness’s recollection of the scene. For example, suggestive questioning by officers—which could be intentional or unintentional—can put pressure on a witness to omit, create, or change details of their account.

“Time is another factor that can influence the accuracy of eyewitness accounts. While most statements are made immediately after the incident, there are times when witnesses may not be called to participate in a lineup until several weeks after the event. This passage of time often causes memories to slip.”

Such factors, and more in the post, argue for prompt questioning by officers with undoubted integrity.

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