New uniform guidelines considered for eyewitness evidence - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New uniform guidelines considered for eyewitness evidence

September 16, 2007

Albany -- Most of us go through the day following a routine. Crossing things off a mental check list and moving to the next task. "I work full time and go to school full time. I have a lot of stuff on my mind. So I am not always looking to see who is around me," said Darton College student, Felicia Akers.

But if a crime happened and the police needed a description, would you be able to provide an accurate one? "If I witnessed something, I would want to remember as much as I could so I could let the police know," said Ackers.

"Well basically my mind slips sometimes, but basically I remember everything," said Costrellius Barber. 

Eyewitness accounts are important to any police report. But each officer in Georgia collects that information differently. "There is not really a set standard as far as departmental policy, but we all train our officers to do the same thing. And its not going to vary much with what Albany Police Department will do or Dougherty County Police Department or the Sheriff department," said Dougherty County Lieutenant T. C. Rouse.

The state is considering a uniform guideline in collecting eyewitness accounts. "The problem that you have when you set a guideline down that you can only use an eye witness in this incident and not that, is it's kind of constricting what you have," said Lt. Rouse.

Officers think that successful cases happen when you use both eyewitness and physical evidence. "Physical evidence is just overwhelming. A lot of people go with the DNA evidence now. Fingerprints are a big thing. Somebody approached the scene; use footprints," said Lt. Rouse.

Some feel any evidence is important. "It's better than nothing. If you see some thing, you should report it," said Akers. Because your account could help solve a crime.

The topic of how eyewitness evidence is collected in our state will be discussed at a legislative hearing in Atlanta Monday. Six men exonerated in Georgia will also attend the hearing.

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