The concept of eyewitnesses and eyewitness statements is often debated in several different realms. Some experts say that these statements are not reliable whereas others think differently. However, a Supreme Court in Chicago found that the eyewitness statement (of a police officer) was enough proof in a case of gun possession. It’s important to note that this could influence future cases that are similar as well as set a precedent for future eyewitness statements. While reading about this case, I was curious to know how police body cameras affect their own eyewitness statements. An article from a reporter in Dayton Beach discusses the consequences and benefits of having body cameras. A key point of the article is that the body camera footage can support any statements made by the officer(s) as well as others involved. However, the video from these cameras can be blurry or even covered by other items on the officer’s vest. Additionally, police officers in Florida have the option of turning off their body cameras at their discretion.
While reading these articles, I found that I became intrigued by the connection of eyewitness memories and Flashbulb memories. Flashbulb memories are detailed autobiographical memories that can often be associated with major life events. In the context of the case previously mentioned, the police officer could have feared for their life which caused them to remember the Defendant having a gun in their possession. This is not only a major event but also falls under the concept of consequentiality. Consequentiality is when someone has a flashbulb memory that could have a meaning in a person’s life. In that police officer’s case, the type of gun, their emotions during this stressful event, and what transpired after the fact could all have influenced their flashbulb memory.
Overall, these articles were fascinating due to my previous knowledge regarding eyewitnesses. In high school, I was taught that eyewitnesses and their statements are unreliable. Additionally, in my criminal justice class, we were taught to never base a case on eyewitness statements alone. Now as times have changed, it seems that technology has advanced to a point where these testimonies can be supported through things such as video and photos. I believe that this is just the beginning of the advancements to come.
Also, I found a rather interesting video that shows the reliability of eyewitness statements! If anyone would like to check it out, it’s linked here! 🙂