Thursday, February 12, 2015

Innocence Network Submits Recommendations for President’s Police Task Force

In December, President Obama established the Task Force on 21st Century Policing to strengthen public trust in police and foster strong relationships between law enforcement and the communities they protect.

Currently the Task Force is accepting recommendations and comments from the public. The Innocence Network has submitted a letter which it hopes will draw the Task Force's attention to the importance of administering training and education for law enforcement personnel in the cognitive sciences and, in particular, the cognitive processes that affect decision-making as it relates to criminal investigations.

The letter recommends that the Task Force address the human factors that frequently lead to wrongful arrests and convictions, such as bias and lack of police training in best practices of identification and interrogation procedures. Four specific recommendations are made for police protocols. Adopting these recommendations would hopefully lead to policing that ensures justice while preventing false accusations and convictions of innocent people.

The recommendations made in the letter are:
  1. Implement evidence-based trainings to reduce cognitive and explicit biases in policing;
  2. Implement evidence-based trainings to reduce implicit bias (subconscious mental associations) in policing;
  3. Adopt policing techniques, such as blind administration of lineups, that reduce the possibility of human factors in evidence collection; and
  4. Implement trainings on scientifically supported police practice reforms, including evidence-based eyewitness identification protocols and the electronic recording of custodial interrogations.
Read the full letter (PDF).

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