The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) is one of the leading organizations for law enforcement professionals in the U.S. and around the world.  I regularly turn to their model policy and training documents when working on those issues for police agencies.  So it’s a big deal to see their new report, prepared in conjunction with their partner, the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs, announcing that their new effort in which they will play a leading role in fixing the problems in police investigation that cause wrongful convictions.

The report, titled, “National Summit on Wrongful Convictions: Building a Systemic Approach to Prevent Wrongful Convictions,” takes a full view of the issues that must be addressed to avoid convicting the wrong people, and announces a series of recommendations designed to bring the goal within reach.  It is based on work at a summit of people from IACP, DOJ, and a host of experts.  In a preliminary statement in the report, the President of the IACP and the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs, outlined how the report came to be and what it does.

This event gathered 75 subject matter experts from all key disciplines to address and examine the causes of and solutions to wrongful convictions across the entire spectrum of the justice system. Summit participants worked diligently during this one-day intensive event to craft 30 focused policy recommendations that guide the way to our collective mission to continually improve the criminal justice system. The summit focused on four critical areas: (1) making rightful arrests, (2) correcting wrongful arrests, (3) leveraging technology and forensic science, and (4) re-examining closed cases. The 30 resulting recommendations directly address these areas and lay a critical foundation for required changes in investigative protocols, policies, training, supervision, and assessment.

The report makes thirty recommendations on a number of topics: eyewitness identifications, false confessions, preventing investigative bias, improving DNA testing procedures, CODIS, correcting wrongful arrests, leveraging technology and forensic science, and re-examining closed cases with an openness to new information.

The report is absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in wrongful convictions and what can be done to correct them.  Readers of my book Failed Evidence will also recognize that the emergence of this consensus at the top of the law enforcement profession is exactly what I have called for: “Police and Prosecutors Must Lead the Effort” (pp. 158-159).

  1. Kennedy says:

    Always wanted to be Prof. Harris’ research assistant. Speculation would have been unfair. IACP doc available here:, and here:

    Click to access Wrongful_Convictions_Summit_Report_WEB.pdf

  2. Kennedy says:

    Seems that IACP has taken their document down. Reflective of the insular nature of law enforcement? Too much transparency for comfort? Or should a better link be provided by the blog that doesn’t depend on IACP? The first two being too speculative and perhaps unfair, I’d like to find the document somewhere else.

  3. L. Richardson says:

    With the continual developments in DNA, ask 3 witnesses at a crime scene what the suspect(s) looked like and you will have 3 (or more) different answers. Unfortunately, in the world we now live in we must rely on cameras, monitors, background checks on potential suspects and to some degree profiling. Yet even with all the aforementioned techniques there are those who will still be wrongfully convicted. Or true convicted felons fighting the system longer than should be allowed which has allowed some to gain their freedom.

  4. Ian says:

    Amazed that there was even a debate about the merits of recording suspect interviews.

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