15.170 - Conducting Identification Procedures

Effective Date: 06/10/19

This policy applies to employees preparing and conducting identifications through procedures such as photomontages, lineups, and show-ups.

Identification obtained through a carefully choreographed procedure can strengthen the evidentiary value and minimize the potential effect of external influences on a witness’s memory and confidence.

When circumstances require a prompt show-up of a single suspect to a witness, it can provide important investigative information at an early stage. Procedural safeguards can reduce the inherent suggestiveness of the encounter.

Preparing a complete and accurate record of the results of the identification strengthens the credibility of the results. This record is a critical part of the investigation and any subsequent court proceedings.

Definitions

Administrator - The individual conducting an identification procedure with a victim or witness.

Fillers – Non-suspect photographs or persons in a lineup included with the suspect’s photograph or suspect in an identification procedure.

Identification Procedure – Any procedure that includes the suspect and tests the witness’s memory of a person involved with the crime, including a show-up, photomontage, lineup, mug-book search, and the production of a composite sketch.

Lineup – An identification procedure in which a group of persons, including a suspect, is displayed in order to determine whether the victim or witness recognizes a person involved with the crime.

Photomontage – An identification procedure in which a series of photographs of persons, including a suspect, is displayed to determine whether the victim or witness recognizes a person involved with the crime.

Show-Up – An identification procedure in which a single suspect is presented in order to determine whether the victim or witness recognizes a person involved with the crime. This typically includes the in-person presentation of a suspect in the field and occurs close in time and proximity to the incident under investigation.

 

15.170 POL-1 Preparing and Administering Photomontages and Show-ups

1. Investigators Will Only Use One Type of Identification Procedure

Investigators may not administer a photomontage or show-up to a witness if that witness has already participated in any other identification procedure involving the same suspect.

Exception: Investigators may use additional identification procedures if directed by a prosecutor.

2. Investigators Will Not Use Single-Photo Identification

Investigators will not administer a single photo identification procedure unless there is a high level of familiarity between the witness and the suspect, and the investigator only needs to establish the identity of a known suspect.

3. Administrators Will Make an Effort to Avoid Suggesting There is a Specific Suspect

Administrators will make an effort to avoid saying anything to a victim or witness that would suggest that there is a specific suspect or person of interest for the crime at any time prior to an identification procedure.

During show-ups, officers will take reasonable steps to avoid creating the appearance that the suspect is in custody. This includes transporting the witness to the suspect’s location instead of transporting the suspect.

4. Officers Will Make an Effort to Separate Multiple Witnesses

Before performing a show-up, it is preferable to separate witnesses and instruct them to avoid discussing details of the incident with other witnesses. Additionally, officers will take steps to prevent potential witness from overhearing radio communications that would indicate a positive pick has been made by another witness.

Officers will conduct show-ups with no more than one witness present at a time.

If one witness positively identifies the suspect, consider using other identification procedures (e.g., lineup or photomontage) for remaining witnesses.

5. Each Photomontage May Contain Only One Photo of One Suspect

If multiple photos of the suspect are available, investigators will choose the photo that most resembles the suspect appearance at the time of the incident.

If there are multiple suspects, investigators will prepare a separate photomontage with unique fillers for each suspect.

6. Investigators Will Select Fillers for Photomontages

When choosing fillers, investigators will consider what level of description of the suspect has been provided by the witness(es) and select fillers who generally fit that description.

When there is a limited or inadequate description of the suspect provided by the witness, or the description differs significantly from the suspect, investigators will select fillers who resemble the suspect in significant features.

7. Investigators Will Create a Consistent Appearance Between the Suspect and the Fillers in Photomontages

Complete uniformity of features is not required. However, investigators will add or conceal any unique or unusual feature, such as a tattoo or scar that was used to describe the suspect.

This will apply to all of the photos in a photomontage, and concealing such a significant feature during a lineup.

Exception: Though a consistent appearance is important, investigators will 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.

8. Investigators Shall Use a Minimum of Five Fillers for Each Photomontage

Investigators shall not reuse fillers in photomontage presentations to the same witness.

9. Investigators Shall Position the Suspect or Suspect Photo Randomly in Photomontages

This applies to each photomontage, both across cases and with multiple witnesses in the same case.

10. Investigators Shall Have Coworkers Review Photomontages Before Presentation

Before presenting a photomontage to a witness, the investigator will present the photomontage to one or more coworkers who are unfamiliar with the subject to determine if they are able to select the subject.

11. Administrators Will Take Steps to Eliminate Influence in Photomontage Presentations

12. Administrators May Conduct Photomontages Either In Person or via Email.

If an administrator elects to conduct a photomontage via email, the administrator will begin by sending a test email to the witness and verifying the receipt of that email.

Once the email address is verified, the administrator may send the prepared montage and viewing instructions and proceed per this policy.

13. Administrators Shall Provide Witness Instructions Before Presenting a Photomontage or Show-Up

Before presenting a photomontage or a show-up, the administrator will instruct the witness that:

- The witness will view a person, persons, or a group of photos

- The witness should not feel that he or she has to make an identification

- It is just as important to clear innocent persons from suspicion as to identify guilty parties

- The person or photo of the person who committed the crime may or may not be present

- Regardless of whether or not an identification is made, the police will continue to investigate the incident

- Additional instructions for sequential photomontages:

- Individual photos will be viewed one at a time.

- The people in the photos are in random order.

- A victim or witness may take as much time as needed making a decision about each photo before moving to the next.

- All photos will be presented, even if an identification is made.

14. Administrators Will Document Any Statements by the Witness or Victim

The administrator will document any statements the witness or victim makes after evaluating the photographs.

Administrators will make an effort to avoid providing any feedback to a victim or witness regarding their decision.

15. Administrators Shall Document Results of the Identification

Administrators should fully document all identification procedures conducted with any victim or witness. Administrators should use video recording when practicable. Audio recording is the preferred alternative.

If neither video- nor audio-recording is possible, administrators should produce a detailed written report of the interview and identification procedure.

16. Photomontages are Investigative Tools

A photomontage is considered an investigative tool to advance an investigation. Normally the Seattle Police Department does not submit a case for charging consideration based solely on a montage pick.

 

15.170 POL-2 Preparing and Conducting Lineups

1. Investigators Will Only Use One Type of Identification Procedure

Investigators may not show a lineup to a witness if that witness has already participated in any other identification procedure involving the same suspect.

Exception: Investigators may use additional identification procedures if directed by a prosecutor.

2. Investigators Will Select Fillers for Lineups

When choosing fillers, investigators will consider what level of description of the suspect has been provided by the witness(es) and select fillers who generally fit that description.

When there is a limited or inadequate description of the suspect provided by the witness, or the description differs significantly from the suspect, investigators will select fillers who resemble the suspect in significant features.

If there are multiple witnesses or multiple cases, investigators will document the range of the physical attributes and work within those parameters.

3. Investigators Will Create a Consistent Appearance Between the Suspect and the Fillers for Lineups

Complete uniformity of features is not required. However, investigators will uniformly conceal any unique or unusual feature, such as a tattoo or scar that was used to describe the suspect.

Exception: Though a consistent appearance is important, investigators will 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.

4. Investigators Shall Use a Minimum of Five Fillers for Each Lineup

Investigators shall not reuse fillers in lineup presentations to the same witness.

5. Investigators Shall Position the Suspect Randomly in Lineups

This applies to each lineup, both across cases and with multiple witnesses in the same case.

6. Investigators May Honor a Suspect’s or his Attorney’s Request to be in a Particular Position

Washington State law does not require law enforcement investigators to honor defense requests regarding the positioning of a subject in identification procedures.

State vs. Favro, 5 WN APP#311 (1971)

“Counsel for the accused is a silent observer at the proceedings who can later recall his observations for purposes of cross-examination and act in the capacity of a witness to what transpired. The goal is to detect any unfairness in the confrontation between the witness and the accused and to ensure that any suggestion made at that time by the law enforcement officer, either intentionally or unintentionally, is observed…”

The attorney’s recourse to what they may consider improper or unlawful will be the court in which their client is charged. The attorney will not badger or question witnesses, officers, or detectives.

The sergeant will note any objections raised, or lack of objections, in the follow-up report.

Attorney access to the subject holding area to talk with their client and to advise the suspect’s position in the lineup is not a legal obligation of the Department. If the person in charge of the procedure deems it advisable to allow such access, it will be brief.

7. Administrators May Have Lineup Participants Briefly Speak or Perform a Task

Using witness statement and reports, investigators will determine what, if anything, participants will briefly say or do during the lineup.

If props such as hats or glasses are used, each subject will don the prop(s) then pass the prop(s) along to the next subject. This continues until all the subjects have performed the instructed task(s).

8. Investigators Will Assemble Lineup Staff

The lineup staff consists of the following:

- A supervisor

- The lead detective

- A minimum of two other detectives in the lineup room

- Photographer to photograph or video the lineup process

- Minimum of two detectives in the lineup holding room

- Detectives available to assist with the post lineup interviews

- TASER-trained officers. (optional) Typically inmates are cooperative, but always consider officer safety when dealing with individuals suspected of a crime.

9. Administrators Shall Provide Witness Instructions before Presenting a Lineup

Before presenting a lineup, the administrator will instruct the witness that:

- The witness will view a group of subjects.

- The witness should not feel that he or she has to make an identification.

- It is just as important to clear innocent persons from suspicion as to identify guilty parties.

- The person who committed the crime may or may not be present.

- Regardless of whether or not an identification is made, the police will continue to investigate the incident.

10. Administrators Will Document Any Statements by the Witness or Victim

The administrator will document any statements the witness or victim makes after evaluating the lineup.

Administrators will make an effort to avoid providing any feedback to a victim or witness regarding their decision.

11. Investigator Shall Video Record and Document Results of the Identification

Administrators shall video record the lineup procedure. If recording is not practical, the investigator must note the reason(s) in the case file.

The investigator shall preserve the outcome of the identification procedure by documenting any identification or non-identification results obtained from the witness.

 

15.170 POL-3 Using Other Identification Procedures

The department recognizes that alternate identification procedures exist that may assist in an investigation.

1. Investigators May Use Other Identification Procedures After Training

Investigators may use alternate techniques such as composites and “mug book searches” after receiving training in the proper administration of these procedures.

Alternate techniques will not be used with a witness who has already participated in any identification procedure involving the same suspect.


 

15.170 PRO-1 Preparing and Administering a Photomontage

Investigator

1. Chooses one suspect photo for each montage.

2. Selects fillers (minimum of five).

3. Positions the suspect or suspect photo randomly in each photomontage, both across cases and with multiple witnesses in the same case.

4. Presents the photomontage to at least one coworker unfamiliar with the case to determine if he or she is able to select the suspect.

5. Documents the order of the photos used in the photomontage.

Investigator or Administrator

6. Prepares to document the photomontage procedure by video recording, audio recording, or written report per POL-1 #15.

7. Provides or emails viewing instructions to the witness.

Suggested instructions to witnesses viewing photomontages:

“In a moment I am going to show you a group of photographs. You will be given the opportunity to observe all of the photographs.

This group of photographs may or may not contain a picture of the person being investigated or a person of interest in the investigation.

You should not feel that you have to make an identification. It is just as important to clear innocent persons from suspicion as to identify guilty parties

Take as much time as you need to look at any or all of the photos, and tell me what you think.”

8. Confirms that the witness understands the nature of the photomontage procedure

9. Avoids saying anything to the witness that may influence his or her selection

10. Instructs the witness not to discuss the identification procedure or its results with other witnesses involved in the case and discourage contact with the media.

Investigator

11. Documents identification or non-identification in writing, including the witness’s own words regarding certainty.

12. Documents (in writing) the photomontage procedures, including:

- Identification information and sources of all photos used

- Names of all persons at the photomontage presentation

- Date and time of the identification procedure

- Identification results

13. Obtains witness signature and date on results or confirmation email.

14. Ensures that no materials indicating previous identification results are visible to the witness.

15. Protects materials that will be used in other identification procedures from markings.

 

15.170 TSK-1 Conducting a Show-up

When conducting a show-up, the administrator performs the following:

1. Documents a description of the suspect prior to the show-up.

2. Attempts to obtain the suspect’s cooperation in the show-up procedure by requesting the suspect’s voluntary participation in the show-up.

3. Prepares to document the photomontage procedure by video recording, audio recording, or written report per POL-1 #15.

4. Transports the witness to the location of the suspect.

5. Provides instructions to the witness.

Suggested instructions witnesses participating in a show-up:

“In a moment I am going to ask you to view some people.

The person who committed the crime may or may not be one of the people you are about to view.

You should not feel you have to make an identification. It is just as important to clear innocent people from suspicion as it is to identify the perpetrator.

The investigation will continue whether or not you make an identification.

If you do select someone, please do not ask me about that person, as I am unable to share any information at this stage of the investigation.

Regardless of whether or not you select a person, please do not discuss this procedure with any other witnesses in this case or with the media. Keeping the results of this procedure to yourself is necessary to preserve the integrity of the procedure.

Do you have any questions before we begin?”

6. Documents the circumstances of the show-up to include:

- Time

- Location

- Distance

- Lighting

- Weather conditions

- If suspect has changed his or her appearance since the time of the crime

7. Documents the suspect’s cooperation or lack of cooperation.

8. Documents both identification and non-identification results in writing, including facts such as:

- The witness’s own words regarding how certain he or she is

- How quickly the witness identified the individual(s)

- Paraphrase what the witness said and asked

 

15.170 PRO-2 Conducting a Lineup

Investigator

1. Contacts the Robbery Unit to reserve a lineup room.

2. Verifies that the suspect is in the King County Jail (KCJ-Seattle).

- If they are at the Regional Justice Center (RJC-Kent), contact staff at that facility to have the suspect(s) transported to KCJ.

3. Advises the suspect’s attorney or Public Defender Association (206-447-3900) of the pending lineup. This is usually done the day before the lineup is to take place.

4. Determines where the suspect is located in the jail.

- Consider calling the jail early and requesting staff transport the suspect to Intake & Release (ITR) located on the third floor.

5. Obtains lineup chains from the Robbery Unit.

6. Proceeds through the tunnel to KCJ, along with at least one other officer and the chains.

- The elevator to the tunnel is located outside the interview rooms near the Homicide Unit (7th Floor HQ building)

- The tunnel is located on the lower level (LL) of the HQ building.

- Detectives going to KCJ need to be unarmed and readily identifiable in police clothing. A pre-programmed prox-card is required for access.

7. Advises SMC Marshalls that SPD is there to pick a lineup.

8. Proceeds to the jail, pushing the silver button near each door to alert KCJ staff that a request for entry is being made.

9. Takes the elevator to the 3rd floor and inform the ITR desk:

- That an SPD lineup is to be conducted,

- Advise them of the crime being investigated, and

- Give a description of the suspect.

KCJ staff will advise where in this facility possible “fillers” may be located. Staff will take into account the type of crime (misdemeanor/felony) and the level of violence.

SPD doesn’t typically combine misdemeanor and felony inmates, and officers should be aware that there are degrees of violence, even among felony suspects. The most violent of offenders are not intermingled with felony suspects arrested for a lesser degree of violence.

10. Contacts the corrections officer in the wing the suspect is housed in and requests ‘fillers’ for the lineup, providing the general description of persons needed for the lineup.

Staff will provide an inmate book with photos and descriptions of all prisoners in that wing of KCJ. To encourage participation among inmates, officers can offer cigarettes, soft drinks, coffee, candy bars, etc.

11. Selects fillers (minimum of five).

12. Handcuffs line up participants to the chain and transport them to the 3rd floor to be checked out at the ITR desk.

13. Once scanned by KCJ staff, takes the elevator to the 2nd floor, back through the tunnel to SPD HQ, 7th floor.

14. Secures participants (unhandcuffed) in the holding room next to the elevator.

This is the time for the inmates to consume food, beverages or cigarettes while the victim and witnesses are organized and briefed in the lineup room. Printed instructions are available in the Robbery Unit office.

15. Provides defense attorneys access to their client and a private interview room if requested.

16. Briefs all the participants on the lineup procedure and advise them on expected behavior, including what they will say or wear.

17. Instructs the fillers to do nothing to attract attention to themselves or others during the lineup presentation.

18. Provides a number that the participants will wear around their necks (#1-6) once the order of the lineup has been decided. Position the suspect randomly in each lineup, both across cases and with multiple witnesses in the same case.

The suspect or their attorney may be allowed to decide where in the lineup the suspect will be.

19. Documents the lineup order on an SPD Lineup Information Sheet, (form 9.30.1).

20. Briefs the “Line” on any last details. The lineup supervisor is usually a Robbery or Homicide sergeant and will conduct the lineup.

21. Photographs all lineup participants, including suspect and fillers.

- At minimum, facing front, half right, and half left.

- Additional photos may be taken throughout the lineup process at the discretion of the case detective.

21a. Video records the lineup.

- Video recording will commence once the “Line” enters the lineup room. Only record the “Line”.

- The detective must advise all persons in attendance if audio will be recorded, per Washington State law. If there is an objection by anyone present, videotaping is no longer an option.

Lineup Supervisor

22. Begins the lineup.

23. Returns the participants to the holding room after the lineup.

Investigator

24. Conducts witness interview(s) using the SPD Lineup Identification Sheet, (form 9.30).

25. Records identification or non-identification in writing, including the witness’s own words regarding certainty.

26. Obtains witness signature and date on results.

27. Instructs all witnesses not to discuss the identification procedure or its results with other witnesses involved in the case and discourages contact with the media.

28. Returns the inmates to KCJ.

- No food, beverages, or cigarettes are allowed to be taken back into jail. Verify that all items are consumed beforehand.

29. Checks the inmates back into KCJ at the ITR on the 3rd floor before the inmates are returned to their respective floors.