Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Reform of Outdated Police Procedures : Smart Policy, Smart Politics

Decades of scientific research shows that a few simple reforms to police procedures -- like recording interrogations and identification procedures, using a "blind" method for conducting a photospread or a lineup (one where the police officer running the procedure doesn't know who the suspect is), being careful about how police instruct witnesses -- can ensure that police catch the real culprit more often, and arrest the wrong guy less often. In other words, police reform is good, smart policy.

Its also good politics. As a state senator in Illinois, Barack Obama was instrumental in reforming police procedures after his state suffered an epidemic of wrongful capital convictions. As a district attorney in Hennipin County, Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar instituted a series of important reforms to eyewitness identification procedures.

Last we checked, Senator Obama and Senator Klobuchar's political fortunes had not suffered as a result of sponsoring these reforms. In fact, they're both stronger than ever.

Cross-posted at Daily Kos

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