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CPD phasing out lineups, a roadblock in Koschman case

The Chicago Police Department is cutting back its use of lineups, the crime-fighting tool that allowed a nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley to avoid criminal charges for years in the death of David Koschman.

Since witnesses couldn’t identify Daley nephew Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko in a police lineup 10 years ago, police and prosecutors wouldn’t file charges.

Even without the witness identification, though, special prosecutor Dan K. Webb got a grand jury to indict Vanecko, who pleaded guilty Jan. 31 to involuntary manslaughter, admitting he threw a punch that killed Koschman. Vanecko served 60 days in jail.

Now, the Chicago Police Department is moving to “reduce the department’s reliance on physical lineups,” saying the move will save time and money.

The shift began in the Area South detective division last fall and has since been expanded to include Area Central — two of the department’s three detective divisions.

“Barring any issues, it will be expanded to Area North in the coming months and effectively become CPD policy,” police spokesman Adam Collins says.

Though the pilot program began Nov. 6 — nearly a year after Vanecko’s December 2012 indictment — the police department says his case had nothing to do with the decision to move away from lineups.

And Webb says he had no role in the decision, though his report on the Koschman case questioned why the police needed a lineup.