Police Chiefs Recognize Importance of Eyewitness Identification Reform


The latest issue of Police Chief Magazine features an article on the importance of eyewitness identification reform. “Eyewitness Identification: Views from the Trenches” chronicles the experiences of four law enforcement officers, and how each of them came to discover the need for reform.

One of the article’s four co-authors is Mike Corley, assistant chief for the Richardson Police Department in Texas. Corley was the lead investigator in the case of

Thomas McGowan

, a Texas exoneree who was released in April 2008 when DNA testing proved McGowan’s innocence of a 1985 burglary and aggravated sexual assault.

Corley wrote that despite his confidence in the eyewitness' identification of McGowan as her attacker and his supervisor's confidence in his work, realizing that McGowan was wrongly imprisoned for 23 years was "was like being kicked in the stomach." Despite the mistakes made, however, Corley stresses the importance of reform to prevent them from happening again:

"My point in making this example is simply to say that it can happen to any witness and any police department. As leaders, we must challenge ourselves and our subordinates to use the best procedures. The consequences are too high."


Read the full story


. (Police Chief Magazine, 10/1/09)



about how Assistant Police Chief Corley, Exoneree Thomas McGowan and the victim in the case are working together to raise awareness about eyewitness misidentifications.

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