Photo Courtesy of Philip Kamrass/Governor’s Office
Cuomo noted that the new law officially went into effect on July 1.
By Forum Staff
Juries in New York are now allowed to consider the most reliable evidence that identified the perpetrator of a crime: a photo array shown to a witness by police, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Saturday.
Previously, State law prohibited photo arrays from being introduced as evidence at trial. New York also has adopted a standard protocol for law enforcement to follow when showing photos to witnesses for purposes of identifying the perpetrator of a crime. This identification procedure reform law includes safeguards to protect innocent people from arrest and conviction.
“This administration has fought tirelessly to ensure our criminal justice system works for all New Yorkers, and today we have taken another step forward,” Cuomo said. “Photo identification evidence can be a powerful tool to convict a perpetrator and protect the innocent, and these new procedures lay out a fair and effective path to help ensure criminals are caught and justice is served.”
Identification procedure reform was included in the enacted State budget, which also required the State Division of Criminal Justice Services to establish the standard protocol for law enforcement. The protocol adopted by the State includes a number of safeguards, including requiring an investigator who does not know the identity of the suspect or where the suspect’s photo is located within a photo array to show the photos to a witness.
The DCJS used an identification procedure model policy previously approved by the State’s Municipal Police Training Council as the basis for the protocol and worked with criminal justice stakeholders to ensure it aligns with the latest research, protects against misidentifications and meets the needs of police as they conduct investigations. The Council, composed of representatives from law enforcement agencies and academia, endorsed the protocol as its new model policy, which agencies can use to create their own written policies.
“A prosecutor’s sworn duty is to ensure that the guilty are tried and convicted with fairness and the innocent are exonerated. This can only be achieved by utilizing the most reliable evidence available. It is widely recognized that photo arrays offer the best opportunity to obtain fair and accurate identifications,” said Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe, who also is president of the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York. “DAASNY appreciates the efforts of the Municipal Training Council to update the policies and protocols concerning photo identification procedures. This will ensure that law enforcement and prosecutors understand the recent changes to the criminal procedure law and have guidance on best practices concerning the use of the identification procedures.”