Wednesday, February 04, 2015

More On Eyewitnesses

The Santa Rosa Press- Democrat ran an op-ed today about problems with eyewitness identifications. It focuses mostly on police line- ups, courtroom identification and possible reforms. That's fine, but I think they miss the point I've brought up before about eyewitnesses often seeing just what they've conditioned themselves to see. I'm not sure if there's any way to reform that.


At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Require DNA evidence. Streamline DNA testing to make it viable (not cost and time prohibitive) for crimes besides rape and murder. You're dropping DNA everywhere you go.

At 11:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok if you go into a liquor store and rob someone with a gun, there won't be any DNA there. (The cops wouldn't have the foggiest on how to collect it anyway). Assuming there is no video evidence, that case rises and falls on an identification. I don't think we want people thinking well as long as I don't leave any DNA, I can get away with certain crimes. Having said that, there are challenges with identification evidence.

At 12:29 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Yep, there really is no easy answer, especially since not all crimes leave DNA.

Or, even if they did, there might be conflicting views of how it happened. Sure, they might find my blood and dna at a scene, but one witness says I was defending myself. The other said I attacked someone without provocation. We're still stuck with eyewitnesses.

At 1:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correction 11:51. If you rob a liquor store while wearing a full-body suit, including covering your entire head, then there isn't likely to be DNA left behind. Just walking into the store you'll be dropping dead skin flakes that would show that you've been in the store before.

At 9:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ 1:05 Hmmn clever, clever, clever. Here is one though. If your theory is correct that you will be leaving DNA "dead skin flakes" in the store, there is a problem. Lots of people go into that store. Maybe even Fred went into the store 15 minutes before the robbery. Exactly how would you know whose dropped dead skin flakes are those? Answer, you wouldn't. You could grab Fred's dead skin flakes, and then have him arrested, and he would say, I just went in there to get a coke. Ahh, but the DNA said he was there, but it didn't prove he committed the robbery. DNA is helpful in rape cases and murder cases, where the suspect is not known. Other than that, sorry it is not a panacea. Also, our cops here are largely uninformed about how to collect DNA evidence. There might be 1 person in the department that knows how to do that. Almost every crime they investigate they are not going to call that person out.


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