Author Archives: aal5243

About aal5243

Father, Husband, Son, Student, Sergeant

Eyewitness memory, testimony, and identification

Eyewitness memory and eyewitness identification, why so often do people get it wrong?  According to The Innocence Project, which is an organization founded in 1992 by Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system according to  Since the creation of The Innocence Project they have exonerated 342 cases through DNA and have found 147 real perpetrators that actually committed the crimes, (Innocence Project, 2016).  One of the lead causes of the wrongful convictions are eyewitness memory and eyewitness misidentification which we talked about in Lesson 9.  According to the project, at least 70% of wrongful convictions were due to faulty eyewitness identification (Innocence Project, 2016)

There have been several cases were witnesses picked suspects in the back of police cars almost 100 feet away.  Eyewitnesses have picked people in a line-up that had an r marked next to the suspect, and nothing on the other photos.  There have also been several cases were eyewitnesses pick who they thought it might be or someone that resembles the actual perpetrator.  So the question is how does this happen? Also, how can we fix it from not happening as much as it does.  According to our text, eyewitness testimony is testimony by an eyewitness to a crime about what he or she may have saw during the commission of the crime.  In the United States of America, 200 people per day become criminal defendants based on eyewitness testimony (Goldstein et al., 1989).  There have been several studies done in which eyewitnesses either picked the wrong person or could not even recognize the person that did it.  Memory is faulty.  Henderson et al., 2001 states that even under ideal conditions, identifying faces is a difficult task and errors occur.   There are several errors in why people mistake the identity of a person.  Errors are usually due to suggestion, familiarity, and attention.  Errors in attention happen when eyewitnesses are focusing on one thing and forget other details.  Errors due to suggestion happen when a police officer or another person infers or suggest things which then “bring back the memory” of the eyewitness or make them remember things they did not know or have any clue about.  Errors due to familiarity happen when eyewitnesses pick innocent bystanders or someone they saw at the scene due to the fact that they remember their face, even though they were not the actually perpetrators.

Different groups are working with law enforcement agencies to make sure policies are being adopted that decrease the amount of wrongful convictions based off bad eye witness testimony. The Innocent Project has asked police departments to adopt policies, in which they do the following on all line-ups, a Blind/Blinded administration where the officer administering the lineup is unaware of who the suspect is, which helps reduce sugguestive practices.  Lineup composition on all line-ups, that include “Fillers” (the non-suspects included in a lineup) should resemble the eyewitness’ description of the perpetrator. That all officers give instructions to the person viewing the lineup, letting them know that the perpetrator may or may not be in the lineup and that the case will continue regardless of the line-up.  The IP also wants all law enforcement to get written statements from the eyewitness articulating his or her level of confidence in the identification made at the time that the identification is made and to record all procedures, this all according to o  I think that if all these things are done it could drastically reduce the number

Cognitive Psychology Third Edition-Goldstein

Protests, Protests, and more Prostests. We must unify as a nation!!!!

Protest, protest, and more protests!  Hands up, don’t shoot! Read this for a chance to win one million dollars! Sorry, I do not have a million dollars to give you but I figured the last few sentences would get your attention.  Attention is defined as the focusing on specific features of the environment or on certain thoughts or activities according to our text, (Goldstein, 2011).  People crave attention and seek attention to get things said or done.  Whether it is to further a cause, get a point across, or to accomplish a goal, attention is needed. When you look at the recent events going on in America right now, everyone involved is using attention or seeking it in some way.  The protesters are looking for attention to get their voices heard, the police are paying attention to every move they make to stay safe and the media is seeking the attention of the public through racy headlines and continuous media coverage.

When you look at all the recent protests around America against police brutality, racism, and injustices it is clear that the protesters want the attention of the federal government and lawmakers.  Most of the protesters are using selective attention, which is defined as the focusing of attention on one specific location, object, or message according to our textbook.  Their message is no justice, no peace and that all lives matter.  In the majority of cities, the protesting has been peaceful with a few antagonizing individuals mixed in with the crowds.  In Dallas, the protest was peaceful until the end when the domestic terrorist showed up and participated in the tragic events we all know about.  It is very sad and unfortunate, and ultimately words cannot describe the pain all those people involved must feel.

The police officers involved at all these rallies and protests are using divided attention, which is defined as attending to two or more things at once.  When the police officers are on the scene of these protests they have to constantly be paying attention to what is directly in front of them, above them, and around them.  The police also have to use overt attention, which is shifting attention by moving of the eyes.  Police officers have to constantly monitor everything and find every threat.  Covert attention is also used by police officers when at these protest.  Covert attention occurs when attention is shifted without the moving of the eyes, which is commonly referred to as seeing something “out of the corner of ones’ eye” as defined by (Goldstein, 2011).  All these types of attention are used by police to maintain the safety of everyone at these rallies and protests.

The media loves to have the public’s attention.  They constantly tease us with headlines and tell us to stay tuned at 5 or 6 for more information.  The media wants our undivided attention so that not only can they report a story, but also so that their ratings rise.  Every time I turn on CNN, Fox News, or any other media outlet I usually see a headline across my television screen.  Sometimes I think that they believe, the more outlandish the headline the faster we will give them our undivided attention.

Attention is something that is very valuable and meaningful to get things accomplished. Attention is something that is used and gained every day.  In the protestors’ case, I believe that the peaceful protests are bringing meaning to their cause and getting the attention of lawmakers and people in charge.  Every day I see more athletes and celebrities speaking up about various issues in regards to all the recent protests.  The police officers are trying to keep everyone safe at these rallies while focusing their attention to various places.  The media is also doing a great job in covering all the things that are going on and giving the public an unfiltered look at the issues and things going on in America right now.  Overall, I think that if every citizen uses their attention to focus on unifying, the America I love will heal and be a much safer place to live and thrive.


Decision Making- Shoot or Don’t Shoot? A question cops ask every day!

Every day law enforcement officers around the world I faced with the question, should I shoot or should I not.  A split second decision can alter so many lives.   Dutch physiologist Franciscus Donders developed a study that attempted to measure the time it takes for a human to make a decision.  Donders concluded that choice reaction time subtracting by the simple reaction time equaled the reaction time. The fact of the matter is that when police are in out in the field, they do not have time to fully look at all the possibilities of that choice; hesitation could lead to death for them.  I personally am familiar with the question of shoot or don’t shoot because I am a police officer and have been for the last ten years of my life.  What I have learned from firsthand experience is that experience, fear, and environment all play major roles in decision making.

Experience plays a major role in decision making.  In the previous lesson with the Stroop Effect test, the more we practiced or took the test the easier it became.  In law enforcement the more you train, shoot, and experience different types of calls the easier they are to handle.  Recently in the news there has been many stories about officer involved shootings and training.  There have also been many people questioning and Monday morning quarterbacking officers’ decisions.  Below I attached a few links of reporters and civil rights activists participating in shoot or don’t shoot drills.  Las Vegas was able to drop their number of police involved shootings substantially with extra training.

Fear and environment also play a factor in the decisions that we make as humans.  Many people are afraid of the consequences, or backlash.  Many people fear of hurting someone or themselves when making decisions.  There have been many times in my life were I was afraid to make a decision because I did not want to hurt someone, and I am not talking about just on the job but also my personal life.  To give an example I will tell a short story about a call I went on some years ago.  I was about a year out of the academy around 22 years old.  I was sitting in a parking lot inside of my patrol car writing a report.  A guy came up to my window and said “Officer there is a man across the street stabbed in the neck bleeding”.  This guy was homeless and appeared to be drunk so I really was not paying him any attention.  He seemed to be pretty adamant so I got out of my vehicle.  When I exited my vehicle I did not expect what I encountered shortly after that conversation.

As soon as I got out of my patrol car I heard several gunshots, I looked and noticed there was a man shooting what appeared to be an Uzi across the street at a group of people.  The male was firing his weapon while standing next to a gas pump.  The male was also next to a woman and child that were pumping gas at the pump to his left.  I immediately had to make a decision.  Do I fire my gun from across the street and try to hit him? What if I miss? What if I shoot the gas pump and blow it up? What if I miss him and kill the woman or child? All these things were going through my head and I only had a matter of seconds to think about my decision.  The guy’s gun ended up jamming and a foot pursuit ensued and I chased him into the woods about 250 yards. Fear and the environment around me that day controlled my decision to not shoot.

The fact is that with decision making is hard.  There are so many possible outcomes that can come with decisions.  We should never judge, or second guess decisions that people make because we cannot read minds and do not know what they were thinking or feeling at the time.  Everyone brains processes things differently and perspective is everything.  Perception and perspective all depend on the person perceiving the decision at the time.

Below are a few great links and articles that I think you all will enjoy