The House failed to pass The Eyewitness Identification Reform Act purposed to standardize identification lineups. The law would have required all police lineups to be conducted by a random officer who has no prior knowledge about the case or the suspect. The thought behind the bill was that if an unaffiliated officer ran the lineup, there would be no chance of bias or pressure for the witness to pick a suspect.
According to an article from the Florida Bar News, attorney Perry Thurston says that the bill did not pass because of law enforcement influence.
“They thought it was an excellent idea, but they didn’t want to be ordered to do it. They wanted to do it on their own time frame.”
We hear two arguments, both valid points. One argument is that this bill was purposed to prevent the innocent from being accused and to protect law enforcement from any unintended bias; the other argument is that this law potentially casts doubt on law enforcement’s integrity.
Sen. Steve Oelrich of Gainesville is quoted saying
“The argument can’t be both ways that we have every confidence in our cops, yet we are going to make them pay the price by having a law that casts a doubt on their integrity. This is a problem with misidentification by the witness, not a problem with our law enforcement and our law enforcement’s integrity.”
Although the bill died, attention was drawn to this proposition and the fact that police officials liked it – they just didn’t want to be mandated. Just because it didn’t pass, doesn’t mean officers may not adopt this procedure for future lineups.