Eyewitness accounts are a critical component in helping Public Safety Stewards identify and capture suspects, but eyewitness testimonies have been losing credibility over the past few years. The Associated Press reports that decades of studies have shown eyewitness testimonies are only accurate about half the time.
The inaccuracies are generally not intentionally caused by eyewitnesses; however, certain incidents can change the eyewitness’ perception of what occurred, or result in a blurred memory. For example, a man had been sentenced to death for raping and murdering a little girl in Maryland. While no physical or circumstantial evidence was present, five witnesses placed him at or near the crime scene. DNA evidence later helped establish the man’s innocence, and he was fully exonerated.
The National Legal Aid and Defender Association provides a document with 46 cases in which mistaken or inaccurate eyewitness testimony placed innocent people on Death Row. These eyewitness accounts were affected by blurred vision, anxiety, reconstructive memory, and various other factors that diminish the reliability of eyewitness testimony.
As eyewitness accounts become a less accurate form of identifying a suspect or describing the crime scene, law enforcement has started to place greater importance on technology and forensic analysis.
From predictive policing, to increasing social media efforts, Public Safety Stewards rely on technology to keep communities safe. Technology has now enhanced the importance of eyewitness accounts. Smartphones, in particular, have become the greatest asset to public safety because they allow a large percentage of the population to have a camera at their fingertips. Photo or video evidence helps bridge the gap between an eyewitness’ memory of the event and the media presented.
With a tool like sci-Shot that uses technology to empower eyewitnesses, Users can anonymously report any unusual or suspicious incidents by uploading pictures and videos to a database for Public Safety Stewards. Become an App User today to start keeping our communities free from crime, our streets free from hazards, and our neighbors free from harm.
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