Policy: Show-Up and Photo Line-Up Procedures


The purpose of this policy is to establish the procedures for the Michigan State University Police Department (Department) to follow in conducting a show-up of a suspect to witnesses at the scene of a crime; or photo line-ups as a later investigative procedure.


It is the policy of the Department that protocols to conduct a show-up or photographic line-up meet the requirements of current ordinances, law, case law and criminal procedure.


Show-ups: Conducted at the scene of a crime and within a reasonable period of time to eliminate a person as a suspect.

Photo Line-up: An attempt to identify a suspect in a crime by showing the witness(es) an array of photographs that include a person of interest.

For a photo line-up to be completed, the Department’s Investigative Division coordinates the creation of photo line-up materials.

The Department’s technology site contains instructions on how to make an appropriate photo line-up.


Show-Up Procedures

The proper way to conduct a show-up is to have the suspect(s) remain at their location and bring the witness(es) to that scene to view those persons.

Protection of the witness(es) from being viewed by the suspect is of concern when a show-up is conducted.

The Duty Supervisor should assist at the scene of a show-up, so that proper protocols are followed.

It is important to conduct this tactic in an expeditious manner and also be cognizant of the rights of persons being detained.

Identification of a Suspect

If the witness(es) identify the person(s) as being the suspect in the crime, normal arrest procedures will be implemented and proper documentation shall be completed for the police report.

If the witness(es) do not identify the person(s) as being involved in the crime, they can be released after being identified for the report.

Photo Line-Up Procedures

The photo array must follow proper protocols developed by the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office, and be documented in the report.

The Department’s Investigative Division has been trained in how to properly conduct photo line-ups and shall coordinate those for any investigations being conducted.

Photo line-ups shall not be suggestive to the viewer and must have photos with similar features as the person of interest.

It is required that the background and style of the photos are all the same.

Completion of the “Photo Identification Procedure Form” (found on the Department’s technology site) is required for all photo line-ups conducted.

Officers are to follow the step-by-step instructions on that form.

Once the form is completed, it is filed in the original report jacket by the investigating officer.

Once photo array participants have been identified, a copy of that photo array shall be developed as follows:

No names associated to the photos on the printed page, with the photos numbered with “#1 to #6” appearing above the photos.

This photo line-up array will be the printed copy provided to each witness to view individually; and multiple copies can be created if there are multiple witnesses.

Prior to showing the witness(es) a photo line-up, officers shall read the pre-scripted admonishment form contained in the “Photo Identification Procedure Form” (found on the Department’s technology site).

If a witness is able to identify a person in the photo array as the suspect in the crime, that witness shall circle the photograph of the suspect, sign the sheet, and insert the date/time.

If a witness is unable to identify any person in the photo array as the suspect in the crime, have that witness write at the bottom of the sheet, “I am unable to identify anyone in these photos,” sign and insert the date/time on that sheet of photos.

Another copy of the photo array shall be printed that includes the photos and names of the participants; and that form shall be retained by the investigating officer to place in the original report jacket.

This identifying copy of the photo array must not be shown to the witness(es) or your case may be compromised due to suggestiveness to the witness.

The copy(ies) of the photo array that have original signatures from the witness(es) must be placed with the original report packet.

The copy of the photo array that contains the identities of the participants in the line-up shall also be placed with the original report packet and clearly identified in the report who had access.