The ICVA's Surveys of Law Enforcement
Agencies and Commonwealth's Attorneys
As part of the investigation, the ICVA's researchers surveyed law enforcement agencies and prosecutors' offices in Virginia to learn more about their practices pertaining to eyewitness identification, custodial interrogation, and discovery. The survey focused on three questions: How often and under what circumstances do law enforcement agencies conduct eyewitness identifications? How often do such agencies perform custodial interrogations and under what circumstances? To what extent do prosecutors share information from their investigations with defendants and defense counsel?
The ICVA contacted 276 law enforcement agencies in Virginia to participate in a survey, which was submitted to them by electronic and traditional mail and by facsimile. An accompanying letter asked the head of each agency to choose a “supervisor or other individual with knowledge of these subjects” to complete and return the survey. One hundred twenty-seven agencies participated in the survey, representing a 46 percent response rate, which was higher than the percentage of agencies that responded to a similar survey conducted by the Virginia State Crime Commission in 2004. The survey was sent to police departments and sheriff's offices, recognizing that some sheriff's offices are primarily responsible for law enforcement in their jurisdictions, that some share such duties with police departments, and that others are primarily responsible for corrections and court security. Of the responding agencies, 85 percent have law enforcement duties.