Leading in Law Enforcement

November 6, 2013
By Jenny Li Fowler, HKS Communications

An idea incubated at a Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) executive session is transforming the way Baltimore police use witnesses to identify crime suspects.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, who attended the Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety, has implemented a technique called a double-blind sequential photo array in order to curb cases of false identification. In a double-blind photo lineup, witnesses view photos one at a time, and neither the witness nor the detective doing the questioning knows who the suspect is. The lineup is designed to prevent detectives from inadvertently influencing witnesses, and witnesses from potentially identifying innocent people.

“It’s going well for us,” says Batts. “We are evaluating our progress on a monthly basis to address any issues quickly.”

“The Kennedy School executive session honed my interest on the topic,” says Batts. That interest led him to co-author the paper, “Police Leadership Challenges in a Changing World (pdf).

“My passion is to build the Baltimore Police Department into a leader in the Law Enforcement community by applying solid policies and good science to raise the standard of policing in our city,” says the Baltimore police commissioner. “This is our first step as a team.”

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