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National Survey of Eyewitness Identification Procedure in Law Enforcement Agencies, 1994-2012

Resource Type
Dataset : survey data
  • Murphy, Gerard (Police Executive Research Forum)
  • Griswold, Molly (Police Executive Research Forum)
  • Kubu, Bruce (Police Executive Research Forum)
  • Woods, Daniel (Police Executive Research Forum)
  • Berryessa, Colleen (Police Executive Research Forum)
  • Greene, Kevin (Police Executive Research Forum)
  • Berman, Jacob (Police Executive Research Forum)
Other Title
  • Archival Version (Subtitle)
Publication Date
Funding Reference
  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice
Free Keywords
case processing; evaluation; evidence; eyewitness memory; police departments; policy analysis; suspect identification; testimony; training; witnesses
  • Abstract

    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.
  • Abstract

    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.
  • Abstract

    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.
  • Abstract

    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.
  • Methods

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

    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..
  • Methods

    Presence of Common Scales: none
  • Methods

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


    • DS1: Eyewitness Identification Procedure Data
Temporal Coverage
  • 1994 / 2012
    Time period: 1994--2012
  • 2010 / 2012
    Collection date: 2010--2012
Geographic Coverage
  • United States
Sampled 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). Smallest Geographic Unit: region
The study contracted with Tailored Statistical Solutions, LCC (TS²) 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.
Collection Mode
  • record abstracts, mail questionnaire, web-based survey

    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.

Funding insitution(s): United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (2010-IJ-CX-0032).
One or more files in this study are not available for download due to special restrictions; consult the study documentation to learn more on how to obtain the data.
Alternative Identifiers
  • 34274 (Type: ICPSR Study Number)
  • Is previous version of
    DOI: 10.3886/ICPSR34274.v1
  • Davidson, Nyerere, Chapman, Brett. Research in Brief: Eyewitness Identifications: A National Survey on Procedures. Police Chief.LXXX, (9), 2013.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). A National Survey of Eyewitness Identification Procedures in Law Enforcement Agencies. NCJ 242617, Washington, DC: Police Executive Research Forum. 2013.
    • ID: (URL)

Update Metadata: 2015-08-05 | Issue Number: 6 | Registration Date: 2015-06-16

Murphy, Gerard; Griswold, Molly; Kubu, Bruce; Woods, Daniel; Berryessa, Colleen et. al. (2014): National Survey of Eyewitness Identification Procedure in Law Enforcement Agencies, 1994-2012. Archival Version. Version: v0. ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Dataset.