There was nothing to change my mind or opinion in this course regarding criminal investigations. If anything, my stance on certain topics was reinforced. Witness testimony and confirmation bias seem to plague many cases in court and should be avoided. Investigators must deal with witnesses who identify innocent lineup members and rejections of lineups as well; jurors are unlikely to be made aware of these decisions within a case (Dahl, et. al., 2009). These eyewitnesses can be unsure about their decision during questioning but absolutely positive on the witness stand and vice versa. They have time before the case goes to court to think about it, rehearse what they want to say, coach themselves, and replay the moment in their minds over and over again. It becomes very easy for information to be mixed up when that happens.
Eyewitnesses can also create confirmation bias within the investigator. Three experiments examining the influence of eyewitness decisions on participant-investigators revealed that investigators were heavily influenced by eyewitness decisions, regardless of what that decision was (Dahl, et al., 2006). If the eyewitness chose the top suspect in a lineup, investigators would zero in on that person with obvious bias. the opposite was true if they did not choose the number one suspect. I was genuinely surprised at the results and how easily influenced investigators are by eyewitness accounts.
Proverbs 14:16 says "The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence." In any aspect of life, we cannot let what others say and do influence our decisions. We need to look at the hard evidence for what it is. Wishful thinking will not solve a case and innocent people could pay the price in doing so. Be wary and weigh in on all sides before making a decision.
Dahl, L. C., Brimacombe, C. A., E., & Lindsay, D. S. (2009). Investigating investigators: How presentation order influences participant-investigators' interpretations of eyewitness identification and alibi evidence. Law and Human Behavior, 33(5), 368-80. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/10.1007/s10979-008-9151-y
Dahl, L. C., Lindsay, D. S., & Brimacombe, C. A. (2006). Investigating Investigators: Examining Witnesses Influence on Investigators. Law and Human Behavior,30(6), 707-732. doi:10.1007/s10979-006-9012-5
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This course has absolutely reinforced my respect for the process of criminal investigations, and overall I now have a better understanding of why criminal investigations are such an important field of work. There is much more that goes into the investigation than I originally perceived, and I now have a much greater respect for those working in this field. I would say specifically this course opened my eyes to the importance of forensic evidence, and it has challenged me to consider this as a future career opportunity. I love science and I love finding out the facts and processes of behaviors and actions, and being a forensic analyst combines these two things! My "aha" moment was simply reading through the DNA testing portions of the book and loving every sentence, captivated by the importance of this type of evidence and the weight which came from such evidence. This was a very interesting course, and I will move on more prepared for my future career because of it. God bless you all!
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