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Chicago Police phasing out lineups

Published: Monday, May 5, 2014 11:34 p.m. CDT

CHICAGO – The days of lining up suspects so witnesses and victims can have a look at them may be numbered in Chicago.

A pilot program using photographs that started in November in one of the department’s three detective divisions has been expanded and police spokesman Adam Collins said it will be expanded to the third “in the coming months and become CPD policy.”

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the police department’s own research revealed that Chicago’s force is the largest in the United States that still relies on lineups – a staple of crime fighting, not to mention movies and TV shows about crime fighting, for decades. Other departments, including those in New York and Los Angeles now ask witnesses and victims to identify suspects by looking at photographs.

Shifting to photographs will save time and money because lineups not only require bringing in “fillers,” those police officers and other volunteers who stand in lineups with suspects, but to set up and conduct them can take detectives four hours.

Collins said one detective division has conducted about “50 photo arrays” since the project was launched and there was only one case in which the detectives and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office disagreed. Still, it does not appear the state’s attorney’s office is ready to give up on lineups completely, with Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, calling them a “stronger method of identification.”

The police department is not abandoning them completely, either. Under the pilot program, if witnesses identify a suspect after looking at several photographs, detectives still can hold a lineup.

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